Dyke expert needed for North Ronaldsay's seaweed-eating sheep

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North Ronaldsay sheepImage source, Orkneypics
Image caption,
The North Ronaldsay sheep eat seaweed

A warden is wanted to look after a historic stone dyke seen as vital for North Ronaldsay's famous sheep.

Instead of munching grass, the four-legged residents of Orkney's most northerly island community eat seaweed.

A 6ft high, 13-mile dyke was erected in the 1800s using beach stones. It encircles the entire island to keep the sheep on the rocky foreshore.

The successful applicant will be responsible for looking after and repairing the historic dyke.

The sheep are seen as a vital part of the island's economy.

North Ronaldsay mutton is exported, and wool from the sheep is also sold around the world.

Image source, Orkney.com
Image caption,
The dyke encircles the island

The dyke prevents them from mixing with other breeds.

The sheep dyke warden role is being funded for an initial three years by the North Isles Landscape Partnership (NILPS) and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The role also involves coordinating volunteers and helping promote the island to visitors.

'Hard work'

John Scott, chair of the North Ronaldsay Trust, said: "The warden role was always something we've wanted on the island as the amount of dyke that needs rebuilt is beyond what local people can do.

"If we have a person who's full-time, we can get more dyke built and more critical 'strategic' dyke built too.

"They need to be physically able, resourceful and fairly resilient as it's hard work."

He added: "Given the unique nature of the sheep dyke's construction, we're not necessarily looking for someone who has a lot of experience in dry-stane dyking.

"It could just be someone who is able to pick up the necessary skills fairly quickly, while showing a willingness to roll up their sleeves and contribute to all other aspects of daily island life."

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