Before the 18th century most sheep in
Scotland were the now extinct
"Highland Sheep" variety. These
sheep produced wool which was naturally
shed - a bit like a dog's coat - and
therefore had to be gathered or
pulled-out, rather than shorn. The white
sheep in particular would be useful since
the wool could be more easily dyed.
During the 18th century new breeds were
introduced into the Highlands - the
Scottish Blackface and the Cheviot sheep.
When the wool was woven into material, it
produced a much coarser tartan than the
fine quality tartan woven today from the
wool of the New Zealand breeds of sheep.