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Sheep return to Hampstead Heath for the first time since 1950s: Livestock pilot to start next week

PUBLISHED: 00:01 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:56 23 August 2019

Sheep in the Tumulus field in September 1908. Picture: City of London Corporation

Sheep in the Tumulus field in September 1908. Picture: City of London Corporation

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Sheep will return to Hampstead Heath, at least for the next week, the City of London Corporation has announced.

The Oxford Down sheep breed - another heading for north London. Picture: British Wool Marketing BoardThe Oxford Down sheep breed - another heading for north London. Picture: British Wool Marketing Board

This will be the first time since the 1950s that the green space has seen livestock grazing.

In a joint week-long venture with the Heath and Hampstead Society and charity Heath Hands, starting on August 27 a small number of grazing sheep will take their place in the tumulus field - they will be kept overnight at the Kenwood Yard.

The flock of five sheep, provided by Mudchute Park and Farm, are made up of Oxford Down and Norfolk Horn breeds - looked after by volunteer shepherds who will monitor the sheep and help inform visitors about the project.

It is a pilot, which could see livestock reintroduced to other suitable Heath locations if successful.

The Norfolk Horn breed of sheep is one which will be heading to the Heath this week. Picture: Rare Breed Survival TrustThe Norfolk Horn breed of sheep is one which will be heading to the Heath this week. Picture: Rare Breed Survival Trust

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Earlier this year, the Ham&High revealed that, inspired by painter Lindy Guinness, the Heath and Hampstead Society had been in discussions with the City of London Corporationabout bringing livestock back.

Karina Dostalova, who chairs the Corporation's Hampstead Heath Management Committee, said:"The Heath has a long history of sheep grazing with farmers taking their flock to the site before taking them to market.

"Reintroduction of grazing has been an aspiration for many years, and we are glad to be working with our partners on this exciting opportunity."

What's missing from the Tumulus field at Parliament Hill? Sheep! Picture: City of London CorporationWhat's missing from the Tumulus field at Parliament Hill? Sheep! Picture: City of London Corporation

She said the grazing could have positive consequences for the Heath's biodiversity.

Meanwhile, John Beyer, vice-chair of the Heath and Hampstead Society, added: "This idea came up at a lecture given by painter Lindy Guinness, who showed paintings by John Constable of cattle grazing on the Heath.

"This romantic vision happily coincided with the aim of Heath staff to experiment with grazing rather than tractors to manage the landscape."

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