The Sheep and their Wool

Cumbria without sheep would not be Cumbria. They have been the mainstay of the economy from time out of mind.

The main income from sheep today is the sale of their lambs, but in times past the wool was equally important. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in Parliament is still seated on "The Woolsack" in recognition of wool's historic value.

Hand clippers

The Herdwick, the Rough Fell and their close neighbour the Swaledale have been bred and reared to withstand the climate. The Herdwick and Rough Fell in particular have been shepherded generation on generation, possibly back to early medieval times, to their own hill territory or "heaf", to which they will always return.


In a list of the wool sold by religious houses in England, showing the quantities sold and the price paid for it in Flanders, we find, "The Monks of Shap sell their wool just as it comes from the fold, at 9 marks [£6] a sack, and they have usually ten sacks a year." (British History)


Two pairs of hand clippers. They would be greased and resharpened after the summer and usually stored with a leather band round the blades to hold the points together.

A famous Cumbrian song is sung about the difficulty of spinning wool when it has been "tarred" or "salved", and the need to "card" it to clean and straighten the staple: Tarry Wool.