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Faroese Sheep

No animal is more synonymous with the Faroe Islands than sheep. The name Føroyar comes from an old Norse translation that literally means “sheep islands,” so they’ve probably always outnumbered humans. It certainly seems like they own the place, roaming the archipelago with abandon, their fleece often allowed to grow long and wild. Sheep have always been a vital part of the Faroese culture: their wool a source of warmth, their fermented meat a staple of Faroese cuisine.

Faroese sheep on the islands of Borðoy
A stare-down with some magnificent sheep on Borðoy (with Viðoy in the background).

When I visited the Faroe Islands I was fascinated by the wide variety of sheep, so I was delighted to find this poster that illustrates and catalogs all their variation in colors and markings. I immediately ordered it online from H.N. Jacobsens, the oldest book store in the Faroe Islands, which sits in the heart of Tórshavn.

Poster entitled Seyðalitir: Colours and Markings of Faroese Sheep
Seyðalitir: Colours and Markings of Faroese Sheep, illustrations by Astrid Andreasen
Illustration of a Faroese sheep
Detail from the Faroese sheep poster

The drawings are by Astrid Andreasen, a scientific illustrator and artist whose work has been featured on numerous Faroese stamps. The video below by Green Renaissance provides a small peek into her work and life. She seems delightful.

A video featuring Astrid Andreasen, a Faroese illustrator, post stamp designer, and artist whose work often focuses on animals.

Searching online to learn more about her work, I found a couple of other posters illustrated by Astrid, cataloging birds of the Faroe Islands. They’re available as PDF downloads at the bottom of this page on fuglar.fo.

Birds of the Faroe Islands
Illustrations of birds of the Faroe Islands

I’d be fun to take a trip to the Faroe Islands and see how many sheep variations you could photograph, turning the poster into a kind of sheep-spotting bingo card. Maybe someday. Until then, here are some a couple more sheep shots from my 2018 trip taken on the southern-most and western-most islands.

Faroese sheep on the island of Suðuroy
A curious flock of sheep on Suðuroy.
Faroese sheep on the island of Mykines
A wary sheep on Mykines.