The breed’s origin almost certainly emerged from the genetic group of horned sheep from which also came the Blackface, the Rough Fell, and other localised types. Slowly over time, a ‘Swaledale’ breed type emerged from within these horned sheep.
Just after the First World War, a group of farmers living within a 7-mile radius of Tan Hill Inn, on the lonely, North Yorkshire moors, near the Cumbria / Durham borders, held their first meeting to form a breed society. After several meetings, the Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association was formed. From this small beginning, the Swaledale breed has become well known for being a bold, hardy sheep, well fitted to endure the hardships of exposed and high lying situations.
The ewes proved to be most excellent lamb rearers, with ideal mothering abilities in all conditions. The Swaledale can now be found in both the hills and lowlands of Britain, producing both pure breed and the well known North of England Mule ( a Blue Faced Leicester cross ).