In the thirteenth century carrying wool to England was the French equivalent of our carrying coals to Newcastle. There is no need for me to remind you of the high importance of the wool trade in the history of this country, of how the Chancellor sits on his Woolsack, or of the wool churches, the monastic sheep, or perhaps the fact that the whole of our complicated customs system ultimately goes back to the custom upon wool and wool fells. But I want here to discuss the beginnings of this great industry. When did England become a sheep country? There has been very little inquiry into this earlier history of the subject, and in fact the sources for such an inquiry are few; and I wish to bring together what is known of sheep farming in this country in pre-Conquest times. The sources of our evidence are varied, though none of them adds up to much.
KeywordsCorn Europe Income Lime Hull
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