The North Ronaldsay is a tiny, ancient breed thought to have been brought by the Vikings to the Orkney Islands. Most of these sheep today still live and graze on North Ronaldsay. In 1832 a wall was built around the island to confine the sheep to the beaches in order to maintain the grazing. Over time the breed evolved to suit this environment, and now prefers seaweed over any other food.
North Ronaldsays come in a range of colours both within the single sheep and across the flock, ranging from white to dark grey and also browns and fawns. Their fleece is excellent for hand spinning and the sheep have been mainly kept for their wool. Their fleece is almost a double coat having a soft undercoat mixed with a longer, hairy outer coat.
These sheep are suited to conservation grazing picking out brambles, rough grass and invasive weeds. Of course this is a rare breed, classified as endangered by the Rare Breed Survival Trust, with less than 5oo registered breeding ewes with small flocks throughout the UK.
North Ronaldsay wool is fairly soft but because of the coarser outer hairs it can have a slightly rough feel. Ideal if you need a bear for the man in your life!