Bringing the Late Iron Age to Life

Research Beginnings

I have been reading the different pages and articles on the “Learning Historical Research” website (that was linked from Eithni’s website). In doing so, I’ve been mentally revisiting some of my early research. My eventual goal, is to write up a research paper and submit it to the Arts & Science faire in 2018 – with luck, as part of a Pentathlon entry. Although, I’m not too sure just what the other four entries will be, and in what categories they’ll be part of. I know that I *would* like to have an entry in the “Animal Husbandry” section, but I don’t quite see that happening, since I don’t have a farm or the means to acquire the sheep I want to work with. It is a future dream.

Any way, so… one of my early research questions was “What would a Pictish woman of the 4th-7th centuries have had available to spin and weave with? What breeds of sheep would she have been raising (secondarily, would she have been raising them purely for wool, milk, or meat)?

And so, I went off from there. A question that was soon generated, was, what breeds of sheep were living in Northern Scotland/Orkney during this time period? Followed with how did the North Ronaldsay, Shetland and Icelandic sheep breeds develop? Are they related to the Soay sheep in any way? If so, what was the other ‘breed’ that was used initially to create them, since the Soay is a small sheep, and while it has somewhat of a dual-coat, it is not a true dual-coated sheep breed – whereas the North Ronaldsay, Shetland, and Icelandic sheep are true dual-coated breeds.

I’ve also been thinking about where the Roman sheep breeds come into the picture – but that is more for purposes of exclusion than anything else (given that the Roman breeds originated in the warmer Mediterranean areas, they wouldn’t have introduced the genetics for dual-coats like some of the Scandinavian breeds would have done).

What are your thoughts?