Romney Sheep

Romney Sheep are an important part of Sussex and Kent history and environment.

They suit living on the marshes, the sheep produce fleeces that are large and dense. The wool is long, lustrous with fibres ranging from medium course to medium fine. Thus, it is versatile.

This wool was critical to the early England’s dominance in the European wool market. The Romney population was large with much of the wool exported to Europe. Edward I placed a tax on its export. Initially insignificant until the onset of the hundred-year war. The taxes increased significantly to fund the war. Consequently, the shepherds of Romney marsh and Kent’s fishermen took up smuggling wool and other goods to France with considerable profit that outweighed the penalties of smuggling.

Today the Sussex Wildlife Trust use Romney Sheep to graze the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve to maintain the grassland where birds that feed, roost and nest. Without this intervention the area would quickly become scrub and then woodland. To suit the needs of the wildlife supported on the reserve sheep grazing areas and times of the year are part of their annual planning Sheep graze from September to March only.  This allows for the favoured plants important to the longer tongued bumblebees.