American Cotswold Record Association

The Original Registry Of Purebred Cotswold Sheep

Cotswold Origins

(Background of this page is an actual photo of super-lustrous Cotswold fleece)

 

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Please see also:  Medieval Cotswolds, American Cotswolds, Modern Cotswolds

Some early traditions say the Cotswold was brought to England by the Phoenicians (whose early base of operations centered on ancient Tyrus, an island along the coast of Lebanon) sometime between 500 B.C. and 100 B.C.

Proponents of this theory cite the rife trade they carried on with Albion (the British Island where England, Scotland and Wales are located).  They also point to the similarities of husbandry practices in the ancient inhabitants of the Cotswold Hills in Britain with those of Levantine flockmasters, particularly the sheep cotes used in ancient Lebanon and Israel, and mentioned several places in the Bible.

If the Phoenicians did bring the Cotswold sheep to the British Isles, they did not bring them from the Levant however, as the evidence seems to point rather to the land between the Black and Caspian Sea.

The earliest evidence of these sheep in ancient Gloucestershire was recently unearthed in the form of a Roman stone-sculpted sheep head complete with curly forelock, found at an archeological site in the Cotswold region.

Despite the horns, this sculpted ram's enormous size (as compared to the boar and bull)--along with its well-defined curly locks--certainly was modeled after Cotswold-looking sheep.

Occasional appearances of scurs in today's Cotswold sheep suggest likely horned ancestors, which probably looked a lot like this Roman bas-relief on the Plutei of Trajan (circa 98-117 A.D.) in the Forum at Rome, Italy.

Cotswold was most probably the type of wool used to make the famous sheep's wool "rain cloak" catalogued among the personal possessions of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (285-305 A.D.).  This type of garment was normally made from goat fiber (mohair from Angoras and similar breeds of goats).

Cotswold was the only British wool definitely associated with the exquisite and deservedly-renowned "Cloth of Gold."  Gold, beaten, cut and drawn into exceedingly fine filaments, was woven into the wool.  The first known description of this process (Exodus 39:3) specified linen mixed with gold.  Cotswold was the first breed to produce the long, shiny, uniform linen-like fiber necessary to the trade.

Circumstantial evidence hinted at by ancient Greek writers, including Herodotus (ca. 450 B.C.) Strabo (1st Century B.C.) and the Roman, Martial (1st Century A.D.), points to the province of Koraxis in the land of Colchis (today's Georgia, by the Black Sea) as the origin of cloth of gold using wool in place of flax.  More information on this is available in the book Sheep Success Using Cotswold Methods.

Please see also:  Medieval Cotswolds, American Cotswolds, Modern Cotswolds

 

 

Last Updated: 05/09/2011
2009 by the American Cotswold Record Association
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