Breed History - Histoire de la Race

The island of Ouessant forms part of a small island archipelago located off the north western peninsula of Brittany, France. When viewed on  a map the islands strategic location as a confluence for northern and southern european shipping routes  is notable.

LINK to a map of the celtic sea showing the islands location in relation to the UK and continental europe.

It is the islands location and geography which has shaped its history.  Archeological excavations on the island reveal habitation from the earliest times of human settlement in Europe. Far from being an isolated outcrop of granite in an inaccessible sea. Its position at the entrance to the English channel made it an important if dangerous promontory.

Study of an early iron age site of habitation on the island has been able to gain an insight into island life. Its culture shows links to central european populations and confirms the island as a stopping point on an important migratory route for both people and animals from the mediterranean via the atlantic coast to northern europe. 

Sheep were present in good number and examination of the skeletal remains concludes that they were small, gracile and little differentiated from those to be found on  the continent at that time. It would seem that the insular conditions contributed to maintain a population of sheep and develop a breed which has changed little since the iron age.

The Ouessant Sheep originates from the island of Ouessant, part of a tiny archipelago just off the north coast of Finistere, Brittany. The island of terror as it was known to some, was swept by the full force of the atlantic’s weather, the hardy sheep adapted to survive on poor grazing from salty clifftop meadows. It was the women of the island that raised the sheep, renowned for their black wool to weave into cloth known locally as berlinge and their meat with its sweet and delicate taste.

La race "Mouton d'Ouessant" est originaire de l’île d’’Ouessant qui fait parti d’un petit archipel au large du Finistère, Bretagne. L’île de l'épouvante comme c'était connu par certains était balayé par les intempéries de l’atlantique, ces moutons rustiques s'adaptaient à survivre sur les pâturages pauvres des falaises salées. C’était les femmes de l’île qui élevaient les moutons réputés pour leur laine noire à tisser « la berlinge » une étoffe régionale et leur viande avec un goût doux et délicat.

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