The Ancient Cattle of Chillingham
At Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, England, there exists a rare ancient breed of cattle consisting of about 90 animals which inhabit a very large park that has existed since at least the Middle Ages. Behind a dry stone enclosure this herd has remained genetically isolated for hundreds of years, surviving despite their small population. These cattle are not domesticated in any way, further claims suggest that Chillingham Wild Cattle may be direct descendants of the primordial ox “which roamed these islands before the dawn of history“;
‘Chillingham cattle are small, with upright horns in both males and females. Bulls weigh around 300 kg, cows about 280 kg. They are white with coloured ears (they may also have some colour on feet, nose and around the eyes). In the case of Chillingham Cattle, the ear-colour is red – in most White Park animals the ears are black (which is genetically dominant over red in cattle). Chillingham Cattle are of generally primitive conformation while White Parks are of classical British beef conformation.’
The researcher Alan Wilson claims Chillingham cattle were the original holy cattle of the Druids who once inhabited Britain. The cattle were sacred to the Druids, as can be seen in this text from Mysteries of the Druids (1861) by W. Winwood Reade:
‘When the new year approached, the Druids beset themselves to discover this plant (mistletoe) upon an oak, on which tree it they marched by night with great solemnity towards the spot, inviting all to join their procession with these words: The New Year is at hand: let us gather the mistletoe.
First marched the Ovades in their green sacrificial robes leading two milk-white bullocks. Next came the bards singing the praises of the Mighty Essence, in raiment blue as the heavens to which their hymn ascended. Then a herald clothed in white with two wings drooping down on each side of his head, and a branch of vervain in his hand encircled by two serpents.
He was followed by three Derwydd (Druids) one of whom carried the sacrificial bread–another a vase of water-and the third a white wand. Lastly, the Arch-Druid, distinguished by the tuft or tassel to his cap, by the bands hanging from his throat, by the scepter in his hand and by the golden crescent on his breast, surrounded by the whole body of the Derwydd and humbly followed by the noblest warriors of the land.
An altar of rough stones was erected under the oak, and the Arch-Druid, having sacramentally distributed the bread and wine, would climb the tree, cut the mistletoe with a golden knife, wrap it in a pure white cloth, slay and sacrifice the bullocks, and pray to God to remove his curse from barren women, and to permit their medicines to serve as antidotes for poisons and charms from all misfortunes.’
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