Don’t pet the cows

Northumberland, just below the Scottish border, is largely undeveloped moorland; and in an enclosed park at a historic castle famous for its alleged ghosts (read about it here), there lives a herd of wild cattle.

Numbering about 90, the Chillingham cattle are born free, and live free. They’re among the very few wild cattle in the world today. No feedlots or slaughterhouses for them.

“Ill-tempered, unpredictable and capable of a not-exactly-leisurely top speed of 30mph, Chillingham wild cattle are not to be trifled with,” a BBC article says (read it here). “White as snow, with sinewy frames, a fierce temperament and vast horns that curve menacingly into jet-black tips, … they retain a primeval character.”

“‘Although there are about 1.2 billion cattle in the world, only very few – on a few oceanic islands, and at Chillingham – live free of human interference or management,’ explained Stephen Hall, professor of animal science at the University of Lincoln. … ‘In general body size and shape they are, effectively, medieval cattle,’ said Hall.”

They have a fascinating history, stretching back to Roman times; read about it in the BBC article linked above.

And if you happen to visit the castle on a ghost tour, don’t try to pet the cows. They were bred to be hunted, they don’t like strangers, and they can run faster than you.

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