Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Cadzow White Park Cattle

White Park Cattle are said to have once roamed the forests of northern Britain. These magnificent beasts have a distinctive appearance, white with black points; ie nose, ears, eyes, hooves, teats and the tips of their long upturned horns. Their origin is unclear, some say they are descended from the native wild ox of Europe the Auroch, or from the cattle that roamed the ancient Caledonian Forest. In the 15th century they became scarce but their distinctive appearance and their reputation as a formidable quarry for hunting, ironically, saved them from extinction. Some of the nobility established parks for their preservation. In Britain only three herds of white cattle remain, at Chillingham in England, at Vynol in Wales and the Duke of Hamilton's herd of Cadzow White Cattle now at Lennoxlove.

The White Cattle used to graze beneath the magnificent Cadzow Oaks,  behind the hunting lodge at Chatelherault above the Avon Gorge. When the Dukes of Hamilton abandoned their patrimony in the 1960's they removed the herd of White Cattle to Lennoxlove in East Lothian. However in 1987, the Duke allowed six of the herd to return to Chatelherault with the hope that they will establish another breeding herd. In the meantime the Duke's herd at Lennoxlove is the only herd of White Park Cattle in Scotland.

White Park Cattle are the ultimate status symbol, the one that no amount of money can buy. The late Duke (Hereditary Keeper of the Palace of Holyrood House) did however give a steer and two heifers to Princess Anne to establish a herd at Gatcombe in Gloucestershire. As ever, it is a question of who you know.