- British White Cattle|
The Priory White Cattle
"They were smallish cattle with black Ears and
noses. They are seen above going into the side arch of
From a local paper, November 1951
FOOT AND MOUTH
OUTBREAK IS GETTING SERIOUS
"At St Osyth Priory, where an outbreak occurred
last week, there was one of the few remaining
herds of white Park cattle,
one of the oldest breeds in this country. That
has now been slaughtered, together with the small dairy
herd and the stock of pigs. The farm is attached to the
convalescent home maintained at the Priory by the
Shepherds Friendly Society."
Source: Essex Farming - 1900-2000 by Peter Wormell,
published by Abberton Books
is an article from a local UK newspaper regarding the loss of a
herd of white Park cattle to Foot and Mouth disease in 1951.
Note in the photo that the cattle were polled Park cattle.
It is only in more recent writings of the likes of Alderson that
we see the current White Park Cattle Society and its influential
members attempting to re-write the history of the polled white
Park cattle of the United Kingdom. All the cattle, both
polled and horned, were referred to simply as 'Park' cattle in
England for many years.
This image dates from 1835. Uru refers to the original
aurochs that inhabited the British Isles. It was long
believed that the Park cattle of the UK were descendants of the
ancient aurochs/urus; however, that theory has been laid to rest
by scientific testing despite the claims of the horned White
Park Cattle Society of the UK. Please note that in this 1835
image you see both a horned example of the white Park cattle
breed, along with a Polled example of the breed; as well,
the young calf is what we consider to be under-marked today.
(1835 Elegant engraved image titled, "The
White Urus or Hamilton Breed of Wild Cattle." Shows scene of an
uru with two calfs. Source:
"The Ancient Irish Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge" by Unknown, Translation by
Joseph Dunn, 2005 Release"
A link to the full translation by Joseph
Dunn. The events of this epic tale occurred in approximately 30 B.C.
and later, and clearly establish the presence of
polled, white red-eared
cattle in Ireland, as well as horned white cattle in Ireland. The Tain is the oldest recorded history of the Western European world.
deeds it recounts belong to the heroic age of Ireland three
hundred years before the introduction of Christianity into the
island, and its spirit never ceased to remain markedly pagan.
The mythology that permeates it is one of the most primitive
manifestations of the personification of the natural forces
which the Celts worshipped. Its historical background, social
organization, chivalry, mood and thought and its heroic ideal
are to a large extent, and with perhaps some pre-Aryan
survivals, not only those of
the insular Celts of two
thousand years ago, but also of the important and wide-spread Celtic race
with whom Caesar fought and who in an earlier period had sacked Rome and
made themselves feared even in Greece and Asia Minor." J. Dunn
|"While talking about the White
Park cattle, as noted in the "Visitors to the Estate" section,
we had a visit from The Gatekeeper Trust.
were specifically interested in looking at the castle but were
suprised and very pleased to see the White Park cattle as
they are representatives of the oldest breed of cattle in this
country. They thought it was especially relevant as they
told us that in Bury St Edmunds in medieval times, possibly even
earlier and up to the 18th century, the Abbey required that a
white bull, probably one of the ancient breed, be kept on field
near the Abbey to be led around town as part of a fertility
rite. Women would accompany the bull around the centre of town
and then go to pray at the shrine of St Edmunds in the hope of
It is rather pleasing to know that we have brought the old white
cattle breed back to the Bury St Edmunds area."
**Note the short thick horns of
this beautiful cow, rather than the curving 'gilded' horn
described as well as painted in old literature and paintings of
the original Park cattle that were of the horned variety.
The variation in horn type is ample evidence of the introduction
of outside blood into the current herds of cattle under the
auspices of the White Park Cattle Society of the UK, despite
their protestations to the contrary.**
primigenius in Britain: or, why do fairy cows have red ears? -
Current Article Location
(link subject to change!)
In addition to the imaginative Irish examples,
there are a couple of other mentions of these special cattle, which
make them seem rather more real.
The first is an often-cited passage in the thirteenth-century Iorwerth Redaction of the Welsh
laws in which the sarhaed (or payment due for insult) of the king of Aberffraw
is set at "a hundred cows for every cantred he has, with a red-eared [white]
bull for every hundred cows," plus some very precisely-measured pieces of gold
(Jenkins 1990, 5). 
The Cyfnerth and Blegywryd redactions add the following:
"The status of the lord of Dinefwr is also adorned with white cows, each with
its head to the tail of the next, with a bull between every twenty of them, so
as to fill the space from Argoel to the court of Dinefwr" (Jenkins 1990, 6).