Baa-vellous News! Sheep Will Graze On Hampstead Heath This Week

Baa-vellous News! Sheep Will Graze On Hampstead Heath This Week
Sheep grazing on Hampstead Heath in 1908. Photo © City of London Corporation

Attention, animal lovers!

Mosey on down to Hampstead Heath next week, and you might just catch a glimpse of some rather unusual picnic-goers: a flock of five sheep grazing at The Tumulus, the ancient Roman monument between Parliament Hill and Kenwood House.

Norfolk Horn sheep are coming to Hampstead Heath. Photo © Rare Breed Survival Trust

Comprised of Norfolk Horn and Oxford Down breeds from Mudchute Park & Farm, the flock will revive a ram-arkable (sorry) ancient tradition that saw these fluffy creatures act as the heath's living, breathing lawn-mowers. But in contrast to machines, which cut grass to a uniform length, grazing produces a variety of vegetation heights and types — improving the habitats of all the critters that call Hampstead Heath home.

An Oxford Down sheep. Photo © British Wool Marketing Board

Tuesday 27 August will be the first time sheep have grazed on the heath since the 1950s. At the moment, the scheme is just a week-long pilot, but if all goes well animal grazing could be extending to other parts of the heath, too.

"This idea came up at a Heath and Hampstead Society lecture given by painter Lindy Guinness, who showed paintings by John Constable of cattle grazing on the Heath", John Beyer, Vice- Chair of the Heath & Hampstead Society, said. "This romantic vision happily coincided with the aim of Heath staff to experiment with grazing rather than tractors to manage the landscape."

Last Updated 27 August 2019