• Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Locking Horns at Chillingham

Fascinating Auction Item goes under the hammer at Chillingham Wild Cattle Association’s Birthday Event

The Chillingham Wild Cattle Association (CWCA,) will be 80 years old this year and celebrations will be commencing on 12th October with a dinner and charity auction at Chillingham Castle, the home of the iconic breed.  And a very unique item will be going under the hammer – a Shepherd’s Crook made from the horns of these rare beasts.

This key event is to mark this important milestone, and to raise money to restore the building known as the Prince of Wales Pavilion at Chillingham Park entrance, which is to be converted into a visitors centre.

The Crook is a one-off and has been crafted out of three cattle horns on a hazel wood Northumbrian hand shank.  It was commissioned by Scott Smith, local farmer who has lived in the area all his life, and made by Terry Grahamslaw of East Link Hall Farm, Chathill.  On donating the Crook to the cause, Scott Smith said:

“This is a beautifully hand-crafted Shepherd’s Crook, which is totally unique due to the rarity of these beasts.  It has been expertly made by Terry using cattle horns removed from these treasured beasts that had met their end naturally.

“The item can be used as a crook or walking stick and the fine craftsmanship of the wooden shank as well as the horn hook is evident.  It takes real expertise to work with these brittle horns, which requires them to be crushed into a solid mass then polished.”

For such an item to be fit for purpose, the horns need to be taken from an older animal due to the greater length.  As the cattle fight a lot, it is also unusual to find a complete horn, let alone three.  Not only is this crook extremely strong and fully functional, it is also a beautiful item with the horn polished to show many different colours.

The Chillingham Cattle breed is the only surviving wild herd going back 800 years with its ancestors once roaming Britain’s forests.  It has since become synonymous with the landscape around Chillingham. This Northumberland treasure has a distinctive appearance and rarity due to its unique ability for survival with little human intervention.  It is sadly only when these beasts reach their demise that the horns can be seen close up, which is why this is a truly rare item, which captures the significance of the herd for posterity.

Scott Smith concluded:

“I remember the winter of 1947 when the cattle were reduced to just 13 beasts, now numbers are in the region of 100 but still the breed remains extremely rare.  I believe the item will be of interest to anyone who is passionate about the preserving the Chillingham Wild Cattle and we expect this to be a highly desired lot that will bring in high bids on the night.”

Other lots at the auction include a meal at the Michelin star Ledbury Restaurant in Notting Hill, a week’s stay in a villa in France sleeping up to 20 people, a Chillingham McNab, as well as shooting, fishing, stalking and racing packages.  Following the auction there will be after dinner guest speaker former MP and government minister and CWCA trustee Chris Mullin.

The CWCA is a charitable organisation and exists to preserve the Chillingham Wild Cattle and now has over 350 members.  Tickets for its 80th Celebration event are priced at £35 each and are available by contacting Jim Railton on 01668 215323 or 07774 241111.  Accommodation is also available at the Castle on 01668 215359.