Wool cloth production in Britain started in the Bronze Age, in around 1900 BC, although fleece from domesticated sheep had been used for warmth as early as 6,000 BC. Initially, wool was combed from the sheep during the time they lost their fleece in the warmer months, with the first evidence of shearing, dating back to the Iron Age.
Even before the dawning of the 1st century, the Ancient Britons had already developed a woven wool industry. In fact, when the Romans arrived on our shores in 55 BC, British wool cloth was considered a luxury item. The Romans were so impressed by British woven wool cloth that they established a wool plant in Winchester in 50 AD, to further develop the skills of British weavers and ensure a steady supply of this prized item. By the 4th century, the British birrus (hooded cape) was amongst the highest prized and most desirable items listed in The Edict of Diocletian, a summary of traded goods across the Roman Empire.