The Gathering of the Wool

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.