The Origins of Registered Boreray Sheep

The registered Boreray sheep on the mainland of the UK descend from six animals taken from the Island of Boreray in the St. Kilda Archipelago in 1971 by the Brathay Expedition. Seven animals, three rams and four ewes were in fact removed, but one elderly ewe did not survive to produce any lambs. These animals had been requested by ABRO at Roslin near Edinburgh, (Animal Breeds Research Organisation, now the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh) to investigate their wool composition and quality.

Once established at ABRO they were organised into four breeding groups and during that time some of the offspring were released to breeders in Scotland. Three groups are known to have left ABRO. One went to Pitmedden, a Natural Trust Garden/estate in Aberdeenshire which has a Museum of Farming and is probably where the sheep went. The second to Deanston, a village in the Stirling district of Scotland where they were probably kept at Deanston house, home of the owners of the Adelphi Cotton Mill. These two groups were inspected and accepted into the Combined Flock Book by the RBST. The third group went to Martha Crawford of the Deer Park near Inverness. Crawford eventually emigrated to Argentina and some of her sheep were sold to breeders in the Highlands. None were registered with the RBST because registration, which required a physical inspection, was prohibitively expensive in the remote Highlands of Scotland. However, some of this group are being kept by breeders who have kept complete records of breeding and lambs from the time they obtained them.

When the sheep arrived at ABRO they were known as "The Hebridean Blackface from Boreray" which was quickly changed to "The Boreray" sheep for convenience and because they were different to the Hebridean in many ways.

When ABRO no longer wished to keep the Boreray they went to Dr. Richard Allen who kept them in their four breeding groups and had them registered with the RBST.

All the Boreray now Registered in the Combined Flock Book of the RBST can be traced back to these six animals brought to ABRO from St.Kilda in 1971.