PURE GRASS BEEF
" The ancient history of this breed is involved in much mystery. From fossil remains, chiefly found in marl-pits, it appears that two species of the ox tribe formerly prevailed in Scotland, namely, the Bus taurus and the Bos urus. Some heads of these, of very large dimensions, are still preserved in the collections of the curious. Professor Fleming of Aberdeen informs us, that he has a skull of the former in his possession, measuring 17 1/2 inches in length, 9 inches between the horns, and 11 1/2 inches across at the orbits. The accounts of ancient authors certainly allude to a species of wild cattle very different in their characters and dimensions from those of the present day. The favourite haunt of these animals from ancient times seems to have heen the Caledonia Sylva, or Caledonian Forest, which extended from Stirling, through Menteith and Stratherne, to Athol and Lochaher. It is descrihed by old authors as dividing the Picts from the Scots ; and, being well furnished with game, especially with fierce white bulls and kine, it was the place of both their huntings, and of their greatest controversies. Some say it took it's name from Calder, which signifies a hazel, or common nut-bush. The Roman historians delight much to talk of the furious white bulls which the Forest of Caledonia brought forth. In these early days, they are represented as of large size, and as possessing Juban densam, ac demissam instar leonis ; or, as Holinshed has it, ' crisp and curled manes like feires leonis.' At what period this great forest was destroyed, and the white cattle extirpated, is uncertain. Sir Robert Sibbald describes them, in his time, as denuded of their manes. In the sixteenth century, they seem to have become entirely extinct as a wild race, and, as we learn from Gesner, ' were all slain, except in that part which is called Cummernad. Another author informs us, that ' thocht thir bullis were bred in sindry boundis of the Colidin Wod, now be continal hunting and lust of insolent men, they are destroyit in all parts of Scotland, and nane of them left but allenerlie in Cumernald.' At what period the present breed were introduced to the royal chase at Cadzow, cannot now be well ascertained. It is well known that the Cummings were at one period proprietors of Cadzow and Cumbernauld, and it is likely that in their time the white cattle were in both places. But be that as it may, they have long been extirpated at Cumbernauld, while they have been preserved in great perfection at Hamilton. The universal tradition in Clydesdale is, that they have been at Cadzow from the remotest antiquity; and the probability is, that they are a part remaining of the establishment of our ancient British and Scottish kings. At present they are objects of great curiosity, both to the inhabitants and to strangers visiting the place. During the troubles consequent on the death of Charles I., and the usurpation of Cromwell, they were nearly extirpated ; but a breed of them having been retained for the Hamilton family, by Hamilton Dalzell, and by Lord Elphingstone, at Cumhernauld, they were subsequently restored in their original purity. A tradition prevails in the country, that, about a hundred years ago, when it was found necessary, for a time, to remove them from one pasture to another, several hundred individuals, belonging to the different baronies on the ducal estate, were called out, and that they only effected their purpose with much danger and difficulty. Instances are recorded of their having been taken when young, and tamed, and even milked. The milk, like that of most white cattle, is described as thin and watery. The usual number of ribs is thirteen on each side ; some have been slaughtered with fourteen pair of ribs, but this is exceedingly rare. There is no other park of cattle in Scotland of a similar description."
Wild White Cattle in Vaynol Park (of Scottish Origin)
photo from Farm live stock of Great Britain, 1907
By Robert Wallace, Loudon M. Douglas, Primrose McConnell, W. B. Wale
The semi-wild cattle of Chatelherault Park, Scotland,(the bos scoticus of some writers), are simewhat different in their characters from those of Chillingham. " These feral cattle," says Mr. Martin, " are larger and more robust than the Chillingham; the body is dun white; the inside of the cars, the muzzle and hoofs black instead of red, and the fore part of the leg from the knee downwards is mottled more or less with black; ihe roof of the mouth and the tongue are black, or largely spotted with black. The cows, and also the bulls, are generally polled or hornless." Those which are castrated generally have horns. Though dun is the prevailing color, it is stated that calves are sometimes dropped which are " off the markings," as it is termed, and in such cases the color is black, or black and white mixed. It is said the breed never shows but these two colors.
On comparing this stock with the Galloways, there is evidently considerable affinity between them, and it is not impiobablo that they had a common origin. In the latter breed the dun color was formerly not uncommon and is even now occasionally seen; while, as has been mentioned, tho black sometimes appears in the wild stock.
Interesting, but sad, story of the Chartley herd.
photo from Country Life, Volume 16, December 3, 1904, on the occasion of the auction of the wild white cattle of Chartley Park
Others attempt to trace the Galloway to what is supposed to be the remnant of a wild race,—Bos scoticus of some writers,— kept for many years past in the old Cadzow or Chatelerhault Park, belonging to the Duke of Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland. These cattle, like those kept in Chillingham Park, Northumberland, England, are in a semi-wild state, though they have been for hundreds of years restrained in their liberty by fixed bounds. There has been much speculation in regard to these cattle. By some persons they are considered as descendants of the aboriginal stock of the country; others believe them to belong to a domesticated race introduced by the Romans nearly two thousand: years ago, but which, being allowed to roam at will in the uncultivated districts of the country, became wild.
But it is proper to observe that from all the knowledge we possess of these cattle, there has always been a marked difference between the two herds of Chillingham and Chatelerhault. The former are uniformly horned, and except, in their color,— white with red ears,—bear a striking resemblance to the Devon breed. The Scottish " wild kye," as they are called, are larger than the Chillingham cattle, and there have always been polled or hornless ones among them. The color of the two herds is not the same. Though that of the Scottish herd may be said to be generally white, it is not so clear a white as that of the Chillingham stock, and instead of red muzzles and ears, those of the former are black, their tongues are black, and they are usually flecked with black on the forearm and lower part of the shoulder. Some of the earlier accounts of them, state that the cows were generally without horns and the bulls frequently so. The number of hornless ones seems to have decreased of late, probably from the fact that horned bulls only have been kept for propagation. Still, when the writer examined this herd, consisting of about eighty head of a breeding age, a few years since, several polled cows and one steer were noticed. The aged bulls had horns of medium length and size. As to color, it may be said to be somewhat variable, calves that are " off the markings " being not unfrequently produced. The keeper informed me that there were every season, some calves of a spotted black and white, and occasionally those of a wholly black color. These are always killed at an early age. It is contended by some that these out-croppings of black, as well as the absence of horns, indicate an affinity between this stock and the Galloways—the color of the latter being almost uniformly black, of late years, though it was formerly varied with red and brindled, and on some animals with patches of white. That part of Cadzow Park in which the wild cattle are kept, embracing about one thousand acres, is called "The Oaks," On it are numbers of ancient oak trees, of massive size, and of an age computed at about one thousand years. They are regarded as the remains of the old Caledonian 'Forest, which according to early records once covered a great extent of country. In remote times, as tradition and history inform us, wild cattle ranged this forest unrestrained.