Cotswold Lion and her lamb
Odd as it may sound, the Cotswold Lion is a sheep! In the Cotswolds the Romans developed sheep farming on their big estates. They were perhaps building on methods and techniques learnt from the Celtic Britons. It is probable that in Roman Britain the sheep were smaller and therefore produced less wool. During Anglo Saxon times sheep farming continued to thrive and it’s interesting to note that the words Cot and Wold come from this era. The sheep were grazed in large ‘cots’ or enclosures, initially in the Cutsdean area of the north Cotswolds, the enclosures were sited on the ‘ wolds ‘ or hills. So, a literal translation of Cotswolds is ‘sheep-hills’.
The list of wool-producing monasteries drawn up by Francesco Balducci Pegolott (1290–1347) a member of the Florentine merchant house of Bardi, contains a larger proportion of Cistercian houses (about 85 per cent) than of any other order. Prices per sack are quoted for almost every house, but these must be used with care. They are not directly comparable with those fixed on a county basis for the wool grant of 1337. The Pegolotti figures are the earlier, probably by at least forty years; they include the cost of carriage from England to Flanders and the profit due to the merchant; and they are usually given for three grades, of which the ‘middle’ wool probably represents the average county product. Nevertheless, if we subtract four marks from the prices of ‘best’ wool and two from those of ‘middle’ wool– amounts suggested by a study of prices actually obtained on various occasions by Cistercian houses–there is still every indication that the monks were getting more for their wool than most other producers. How much more would of course depend upon the proportion which ‘best’ wool bore to the total, and this we have no means of knowing. There is, however, some evidence to support the view that the Cistercians occasionally marketed an intrinsically better product and very often prepared their clip more carefully.