05 Oct 2016
Scientists have discovered goats at Thorndon Country Park are the descendants of a very rare medieval breed. DNA tests have confirmed the goats' lineage dates back through more than 1,000 years of history.
The Cheviot goats are an identical match to the Old English Goat, the remains of which have been recovered from several medieval archaeological sites in London. With only 500-1000 of the goats nationally, the 62 strong herd at Thorndon Country Park is believed to be one of the largest in the UK.
The goats were brought to Essex from Northumberland after emergency re-homing was required. Place Services' Legacy Grazing Project and Essex Country Parks now care for them. The goats work alongside Red Poll cows to graze an area of species-rich grassland and are highly effective at chomping their way through tough bramble.
With their rare breed status confirmed, Place Services now hope to successfully breed the animals in order to increase their numbers as well as introducing them to other sites that require a conservation grazing service in Essex and further afield. There has already been interest from Basildon Council, with ten goats introduced at Wat Tyler Country Park.