The Four-Horned Goats and Sheep of the Vikings

December 2, 2019 — The Manx Loaghtan sheep was introduced to the Isle of Man by the Vikings some 1100 years ago. It is one of the last breeds of sturdy, small, and independent sheep that can grow two, four, and even six horns. These wooly animals belong to the “Northern Short Tail” group of sheep.

Similar sheep were common in Iron and Viking Age Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea region, and in parts of Finland. Their ancestor mammals likely originated in nomadic pastoral societies of the vast Eurasian steppes thousands of years ago.

The Vikings helped spread these sheep from east to west, including Iceland, the Scottish Islands, Normandy in France, and the Isle of Man.

The Manx Loaghtan ram has prominent horns giving a unique and impressive appearance. Coincidentally, the totem animal of the Swedish island of Gotland is a ram.