A Brief History of the Breed


Cheviots taken North over 200 years ago   The breed has a very long pedigree, going back over 200 years.

The story begins with the noted 18th century agricultural improver, Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, in Caithness, in the far north of Scotland.

There was concern at this time about the deteriorating quality of the sheep stock in both Scotland and England.

Wool, which had for centuries previously been one of the staple commodities of the country, was now of such poor quality that most of the supplies needed for the British woollen industry had to be imported.
Now a recognised breed noted for its carcase quality   This concern led to the setting up, at the instigation of Sir John, of the British Wool Society in 1791. The Wool Society carried out field trials with a variety of sheep breeds from all over Europe with a view to introducing new blood to improve native stock.

Of all the different breeds, native and foreign, Sir John was most impressed with the “long hill sheep” found on the Border Hills.

He gave them the name “Cheviots” and, backing his own judgement, took 500 north to his Langwell estate in Caithness. The Cheviots were a great success and in the following years thousands and thousands were taken north - to Caithness, Sutherland and Ross-shire.

Over the years the sheep adapted and developed to suit their new environment and the North Country Cheviot, as we know it today, has evolved from these early "settlers". There are now three distinct types within the breed :
Hill or Lairg Type   The sheep that developed on the hard and rugged hills of Sutherland are known as the Hill Type. (They must not be confused with the South Country Cheviots which are nowadays sometimes called Hill Cheviots.) The Hill Type of North Country Cheviot has retained many of the visual characteristics of the original Cheviot of the late 18th / early 19th centuries.
Caithness Type   The more fertile ground of Caithness has produced a bigger and heavier sheep, the Caithness Type
Border Type   The re-infusion of the bloodlines of these two types back to the Borders between the two World Wars has resulted in a third strain, known as the Border Type .
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