A long time ago (circa 800 A.D.) the Vikings arrived on the shores of the Hebrides in long boats, bringing with them their northern short-tailed sheep. In time they settled, their long boats, built for speed and long sea voyages, were adapted for inter-island passage, and became the Hebridean galley or Birlinn.
The Hebrideans saw an opportunity in the Birlinn and adopted it as their battle craft, waging war on the Vikings and in 1158 the dynasty of the Lord of the Isles began. The Vikings went home soon after, but they left behind their genes, Birlinn boat design and their sheep.
In time this primitive and hardy Norse sheep evolved, travelled a bit and inter-bred, resulting in the Hebridean sheep that we rear on our croft at Sunhill today.
The Birlinn Yarn company is a spin-off from Sunhill. We are proud of the Norse and Hebridean heritage bred into our sheep. Hence, we twine this creative yarn into everything we do.
Excerpt from birlinnyarn.co.uk
Sunhill 'Cnoc na Grèine' is a family run croft on the Isle of Berneray, in the Outer Hebrides.
We rear pedigree Hebridean sheep and our sustainable whole-sheep-plan ensures the best in animal husbandry and consideration of our beautiful island ecology.
Our sheep lamb on our croft in the spring. We then take them by boat to summer grazing on islands in the Sound of Harris. Around July, we shear the sheep on the islands with the wool sorted and graded once we are back ashore on the croft. In the autumn, the ewes are brought back for tupping, after which they spend most of the winter on the machair common grazing.
Click below to listen to my chat with Meg Rodger of Birlinn Yarn Co in her home on Berneray, Outer Hebrides