9. Cotswold Lion sheep

Cotswold farmer and TV presenter Adam Henson with a Cotswold Lion sheep.
Although the Cotswold Lion is "only" a breed of sheep, it is actually one of the main reasons people visit the Cotswolds, even though they may not know it.

The Cotswolds' flourishing wool trade during the Medieval period created the wealth that shaped so many of the area's beautiful market towns and villages, a beauty that is still very much in evidence today.

As Adam Henson, the Cotswolds' "celebrity farmer", has said: "The riches the Cotswold wool brought to the region helped build the great houses and churches that we see today."

The Cotswold breed of sheep is thought to have been introduced to the West Country by Roman settlers about 2,000 years ago. Big and hornless, the Cotswold breed has a white face and a long fleece. It was prized for its high growth rate and heavy wool clip and became known as the Cotswold Lion.

When wool production in the Cotswolds went into decline between 1750 and 1850, the area's previous over-reliance on the wool trade resulted in a period of poverty. By the end of the First World War, only a few flocks of the Cotswold Lion remained and it had become a rare breed.

But the Cotswold Lion is now expanding again, thanks both to rare breed conservationists and a demand for a sheep with high growth rate.

Adam Henson has described it as "a big, docile breed that is easy to work with and is certainly one of my favourites".

There are now more than 50 flocks and about 3,000 animals around the UK, many of them in the Cotswolds.

More information

 Visit the Cotswold Sheep Society's website at www.cotswoldsheepsociety.co.uk
© Loving The Cotswolds. 2021.