The Wild Cattle of Chillingham are said to be the only survivors of the wild herds which once roamed Britain’s forests.
Today, they live in the beautiful enclosed Park here at Chillingham, close to the historic fortresses at Alnwick and Bamburgh, less than 10 miles from the dramatic coast and beautiful beaches of Northumberland.
Chillingham has been their home for at least 800 years.
In 1344 the King of England gave permission for Chillingham Castle to be ‘castellated and crenellated’. It may well have been then that the herd was corralled for purposes of food and hunting.
Within Chillingham Park there are traces of Romano-British occupation and late medieval ploughing and trackways. Ornamental woodlands date from the late 1700s, and there are many very old alder trees, perhaps 500 or 600 years old, along the streams and watercourses.
The Wild Cattle were in the care of the family of the Earls of Tankerville for their entire recorded history up to 1971, when Lord Tankerville bequeathed them to the Chillingham Wild Cattle Association (formed in 1939). His son, the 9th Earl died in 1980 and the Chillingham Estate was sold. After the intervention of the 10th Duke of Northumberland, the Park and its surrounding woodlands were acquired by the Sir James Knott Trust.
With generous support from the Northern Rock Foundation and several other donors, CWCA purchased the park in 2005, thus reuniting the herd and their habitat under the same ownership.