William Welstead
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Culture and sheep in the English Lakeland
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The context for Chapter 4 is the award in July 2017 to the English Lake District, Cumbria of UNESCO World Heritage Status as a cultural landscape. The basis of this award is both for the role played by traditional farming and the way that our ideas about landscape have been influenced by William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and John Ruskin. Herdwick sheep, which have a long history in the Lake District, were championed by Beatrix Potter on her portfolio of hill farms that she bequeathed to the National Trust. James Rebanks, who is both a Wordsworth scholar and Herdwick shepherd, continues this tradition. Cumbria, which includes the Lake District, is home to three distinctive hill breeds: Herdwick, Swaledale and Rough Fell. The idea of a cultural landscape is proving to be contentious, and this chapter offers the opportunity to explore how the pastoral mode can be reinterpreted through the animal turn. There is a further opportunity to consider how creative writing is being deployed to conserve the place for hill farming in rural culture. Poets have played an important role in reflecting the lived experience of shepherds. Contemporary poets discussed include Meg Peacocke, Josephine Dickinson and Harriet Fraser.

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Writing on sheep

Ecology, the animal turn and sheep in poetry


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