The Merchant Flock currently consists of Hebridean and Manx Loaghtan sheep. They have been reared in open pastures by David Short and Madeleine Legg in Ashwell, Hertfordshire since 1977.
The two breeds are thought to have been introduced to the UK over 1000 years ago by the Viking settlers. These breeds have the virtue of being able to endure poor grazing and shelter conditions, and as such have survived to the present day. Some shared characteristics indicate that Hebridean and Manx Loaghtan are related The most notable feature is their their horns, they are multi-horned and can have 2 or more. You will usually see them with two or four horns. - Both breeds are fairly small compared to commercial sheep., The two breeds are also related to Shetland, North Ronaldsay and Icelandic sheep.
Manx Loaghtan sheep are listed as rare by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. The Hebridean sheep have seen a revival and althought they were considered to be rare in the recent past they have recently been taken off the list or rare and minority breeds by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Today besides being attractive sheep to have in parks they, because of their hardiness, are used extensively for conservation grazing.