Meet ‘Doris’ the rare-breed lamb born at Sutton Hoo as the winds raged

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Published : 24 Feb 2017 Last update : 05 Dec 2017

A rare-breed lamb born last night as yesterday’s storm blew through has been christened ‘Doris’ by National Trust rangers at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk.

Born in the early hours of Friday, the lamb is the first of the year for the flock and the first pure-breed Manx Loaghtan to join the sheep cared for by National Trust shepherd Andrew Capell.

The flock, which spend most of the year on the Orford Ness National Nature Reserve, move to drier ground over the winter months, with many of the expectant ewes moving to Sutton Hoo.

Andrew, 52, said: “She’s definitely an early arrival, but looking really healthy and is the first of several pure Manx-Loaghtans we’ll be welcoming this spring. She’s only six hours old but already she’s very lively.

“After all the drama of the weather with Storm Doris, there really was only one name we could choose for her.”

Andrew and sheepdog Kite look after the Orford Ness flock which includes a number of rare breeds, all chosen for their ability to thrive in the challenging coastal landscape.

Known as a ‘conservation grazing’ flock, the sheep are hard workers on the Ness, moving from field to field where they keep the grass well mown and generate ideal conditions for other wildlife to thrive.

Part of the flock is currently grazing the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo, where in 1939 archaeologists discovered the remains of a spectacular boat burial dating back to the seventh century.

Archaeological survey work taking place later in the year means that the grass needs to be shorter. And, because of the historical significance of the mounds, heavy mechanical mowers cannot be used.

Andrew, who has spent 36 years as a shepherd, added: “We have another 25 ewes expecting, some are Manx Loaghtans and some are White-faced Woodlands.

“Doris will be spending her first day in a pen so we can make sure she’s well, but then she’ll be out greeting visitors to Sutton Hoo over the next few weeks.

“I’ll be down at Sutton Hoo tomorrow morning to make sure she’s got a full belly. And if the weather’s fine we’ll introduce her to the rest of the flock.”

All the lambs born at Sutton Hoo this spring will stay there until April, when they will move back to Orford Ness.