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The Turra Coo

"The Turra Coo"(Turriff Cow) Statue, Turriff, Aberdeenshire

The Turriff Cow Incident

Dec 9

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"A bronze statue o the Turra Coo
Noo staans proodly in the toon
Ti commemorate a gweed story
A’ve kent since a wis a loon"

~ Braw Image O' "The Coo", Bob Smith, 2013

In 1913, a white milk cow from a farm in Lendrum near Turiff became the focus for demonstrations against the impact of The National Insurance Act 1913! Moo!

The Turra Coo

Little white cows are sometimes at the center of civil disobedience rallies.

Taken from a 2013 article by BBC Scotland:

It is almost exactly a century since civil disobedience swept through the small Aberdeenshire town of Turriff. 

There was rioting on the streets after a local farmer took direct action to challenge the government of the day on taxation. 

The story of the "Turra coo" begins in 1911. The Liberal government had just introduced National Insurance payments. 

People across the country were refusing to pay it and farmer Robert Paterson was one of many.

When the sheriff's officers came to collect his fine for nonpayment, they took the only thing of value that was moveable, his little white cow.

The cow was to be sold at the local mart, but almost instantly the sheriff encountered a problem.

The cow had been quickly painted with the protest slogan "Free!! Divn't ye wish that ye were me".

Not to be deterred, a sale was instead organised in the town's main square using an auctioneer from Aberdeen. It was on the 9th of December 1913, and it drew massive attention.

On the morning of the sale the square was packed with people - farm workers who had been given a half day off by the people who employed them.

The people waiting were agitated, and reports suggested that a dog barked or Paterson himself came up and spooked his cow with a "hoo hoo."


At any rate, the cow took off, a boy cut the rope, the cow is alleged to have a run along Duff Street."

It was then that the riot broke out. Soil and soot were thrown at officials. Fireworks were set off. A policeman was hit full in the face with a raw egg!


The auctioneer had to take refuge in a stable and the sale of the "coo" was abandoned. 

A sculpture of the "Turra Coo" now stands in Turriff town centre.

Although the cow was eventually taken to Aberdeen and sold there, a group of farmers actually bought the cow and presented it back to Robert Paterson at Lendrum.

When the fuss died down the "coo" returned to the farm to live out the rest of her days. The sheriff got his money and National Insurance payments continue to this day. 

For a different point of view on the incident, click the cow and her supporters below.

The Turra Coo

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

The Turra Coo

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