The Year of the Sheep

Lambs watch a plane fly over

Two lambs are too cool
© Mhairi Carroll 2012

The image of a lamb in the field is one we all love. There are about 7 million sheep in Scotland. However, sheep feature less in art, literature or poetry than our other native animals such as deer or highland cows. Don’t think the wrong thing when I ask why don’t we romanticise the sheep.

Did you know that, based on this article I happened upon, in 1992 we should have been celebrating the bicentenary of the year of the sheep.

Sheep on Harris bays

Sheep on Harris Bays
© Mhairi Carroll 2012

In 1792 about 400 men from East Ross and Sutherland began a revolutionary protest to run sheep off the land. The sheep drivers recruited to their ranks as they pushed south. By early August, they had rounded up 6,000 sheep and had reached Beauly, near Inverness. Government deployed the Black Watch regiment in favour of the landowning class to put down the uprising and clear the land of people in favour of sheep. The men were rounded up and six of the ring leaders were transported out of Scotland and would face the death penalty if they returned. The troubles of July and August 1792 saw the year become known in Gaelic as Bliadhna nan Caorach – the Year of the Sheep.

So perhaps they don’t appeal to the folk memory as a welcome sight. However, maybe we should redeem them as they are often present in our landscape.

Two sheep in a bus shelter

Sheep shelter in Harris
©Mhairi Carroll

Of course we love the lambs.

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About photographicviewscotland

Photographers of Scotland's landscape and remote places and arts and craft makers. Mhairi is also making needle felted animals under the name of the Woof in the Wool. We live in Abernethy in Perthshire, Scotland.
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