Tracing the British Sheep Breeds, a partial bibliography

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For its Fall 2012 issue, the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers asked me to write about the variety, history, and development of British sheep breeds for a special issue associated with The Campaign for Wool. It’s a huge topic to be covered in a very limited number of words, but I couldn’t resist the challenge. My bibliography could not be included in the print version of the article. Here it is, although I’ve still included only selected options. A complete list would be enormous. For a fuller list, see the bibliography for The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook: More than 200 Fibers from Animal to Spun Yarn (Storey Publishing, 2011).

I should warn you that some of these sources are better than others (although everything here is worth looking at) and that the state of our knowledge of sheep history is still evolving and incomplete. Also, I am always interested in locating new material. If you know of something pertinent and interesting, please tell me about it!

Thanks once again to Nancy Osbahr, the interlibrary loan librarian for the Poudre River Public Library District.


Alderson, Lawrence. 2009. “Breeds At Risk: Definition and Measurement of the Factors Which Determine Endangerment.” Livestock Science. 123, no. 1: 2327.

Alderson, Lawrence. 2001. Foot-and-Mouth Disease in the United Kingdom 2001: Its Cause, Course, Control and Consequences. Rare Breeds International, 2001 FMD 2001 outbreak.pdf [accessed 13 April 2012].

Alderson, Lawrence. 1978. The Chance to Survive: Rare Breeds in a Changing World, London: Cameron & Tayleur in association with David and Charles.

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. 2012. Breed Information – ALBC Conservation Priority List: Sheep. [accessed 21 April 2012].

British Wool Marketing Board, The. 2010. British Sheep and Wool: A Guide to British Sheep Breeds and Their Unique Wool. Bradford: The British Wool Marketing Board.

Brown, Geoff. 2009. Herdwicks: Herdwick Sheep and the English Lake District. Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria: Hayloft Publishing.

Butler, Alan. 2006. Sheep: The Remarkable Story of the Humble Animal That Built the Modern World. Winchester: O Books.

Cable, Richard, ed. British History Timeline. BBC (British Broadcasting Company). [accessed 19 April 2012].

Carson, Amanda, Matt Elliott, Julian Groom, Agnes Winter, and Dianna Bowles. 2009. “Geographical Isolation of Native Sheep Breeds in the UK—Evidence of Endemism as a Risk Factor to Genetic Resources.” Livestock Science. 123, no. 2-3: 288–299.

Chessa, Bermardo, Filipe Pereira, Frederick Arnaud, Antonio Amorim, Félix Goyache, Ingrid Mainland, Rowland R. Kao, Josephine M. Pemberton, Dario Beraldi, Michael J. Stear, Alberto Alberti, Marco Pittau, Leopoldo Iannuzzi, Mohammad H. Banabazi, Rudovick R. Kazwala, Ya-ping Zhang, Juan J. Arranz, Bahy A. Ali, Zhiliang Wang, Metehan Uzun, Michel M. Dione, Ingrid Olsaker, Lars-Erik Holm, Urmas Saarma, Sohail Ahmad, Nurbiy Marzanov, Emma Eythorsdottir, Martin J. Holland, Paolo Ajmone-Marsan, Michael W. Bruford, Juha Kantanen, Thomas E. Spencer, and Massimo Palmarini. 2009. “Revealing the History of Sheep Domestication Using Retrovirus Integrations.” Science. 324, no. 5926: 532–536.

Hall, Stephen J. G., and Juliet Clutton-Brock. 1995. Two Hundred Years of British Farm Livestock. London: British Museum (Natural History).

Hiendleder, S., K. Mainz, Y. Plante, and H. Lewalski. 1998. “Analysis of Mitochondrial DNA Indicates That Domestic Sheep Are Derived From Two Different Ancestral Maternal Sources: No Evidence for Contributions From Urial and Argali Sheep.” Journal of Heredity. 89, no. 2: 113120.

Henry, Oliver. 2009. Shetland Sheep: Origins and Description. Jamieson & Smith, [accessed 19 April 2012].

Kinsman, David J. J. 2001. Black Sheep of Windermere: A History of the St Kilda or Hebridean Sheep. Windermere, Cumbria: Windy Hall.

Linklater, Andro, Nancy Kohlberg, and Philip Kopper. 2003. Shetland Breeds: “Little Animals—Very Full of Spirit,” Ancient, Endangered and Adaptable: A Compendium with Principal Essays. Chevy Chase, Maryland: Posterity Press.

Pryor, Francis. 2011. Ancient History, Overview: From Neolithic to Bronze Age, 8000 − 800 BC. BBC (British Broadcasting Company), [accessed 21 April 2012].

Rare Breeds Survival Trust. 2012. Rare Breeds Survival Trust Watchlist. [accessed 20 April 2012].

Russell, Angus J. F. 1997. “Fine Wool Initiatives.” Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, EFFN News (European Fine Fiber Network). 1 (August): 13 − 16. [accessed 21 April 2012].

Ryder, Michael L. 1984. “Medieval Sheep and Wool Types.” The Agricultural History Review. 32, no. 1: 14−28.

Ryder, Michael L. 1983. Sheep & Man. London: Duckworth.

Ryder, Michael L. 1981. “A Survey of European Primitive Breeds of Sheep.” Annales de Génétique et de Sélection Animale. 13, no. 4: 381−418.

Ryder, Michael L. 1964a. “The History of Sheep Breeds in Britain.” The Agricultural History Review. 12, no. 1: 1−12.

Ryder, Michael L. 1964b. “The History of Sheep Breeds in Britain (Continued).” The Agricultural History Review. 12, no. 2: 65−82.

Ryder, Michael L., and Stuart Kimbell Stephenson. 1968. Wool Growth. London and New York: Academic Press.

Science Podcast. 2009. Science Podcast, 04/24/09. Science Magazine. 324, no. 5926 (24 April): 537. [DOI:10.1126/science.324_537b], [accessed 11 April 2012].

Sheep Trust, The. 2012. The Sheep Trust: Conservation and Sustainability of Heritage Sheep Breeds. The Sheep Trust. [accessed 13 April 2012].

Trow-Smith, Robert. 1959. A History of British Livestock Husbandry, 1700-1900. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1959.

Trow-Smith, Robert. 1957. A History of British Livestock Husbandry to 1700. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957.

United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organisation. 2012. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS). European Association for Animal Production (EAAP). [accessed 20 April 2012].

Wade-Martins, Peter. 1990. The Manx Loghtan Story: The Decline and Revival of a Primitive Breed. Ashford, Kent: Geerings of Ashford, in association with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

Wade-Martins, Peter. 1993. Black Faces: A History of East Anglian Sheep Breeds. Ashford, Kent: Norfolk Museums Service in association with Geerings of Ashford.

Wood, Roger J., and Vítězslav Orel. 2001. Genetic Prehistory in Selective Breeding: A Prelude to Mendel. Oxford: Oxford University Press.