Friday, March 2, 2007

Lincoln Longwool

Time was when the long-wool sheep of Lincolnshire was the main source of English woollens, the fleece being 'wondrously heavy, and sends down long unctuous wool in pendulous masses almost to the ground'. However, with the import of cheap merino wool in the 1770's, and remoteness from major markets in the 80's and 90's, the old-style Lincoln began to disappear. Arthur Young, thought the breed had been 'entirely spoiled by breeding for quantity of wool only'. Soon after, however, Lincolns were cross-bred for meat production, and began to look radically different. This 1842 print by Shiels is of 'The Old Lincoln breed ram, bred by Mr Jex. St. Jermains, near Lynne, county of Norfolk' is about as close as we can get to imagining the unimproved breed.

I think he'd have made good carpet wool, if nothing else!