"There comes a time when silence is betrayal"
(Martin Luther King)
Scotch Cattle was the name taken by a secret brotherhood of coal miners in South Wales. Dressed in cow skins, wearing elaborate headgear comprised of the severed head of a black bull, the gang would raid at night, visiting and terrorising the home of a local miner known to be working during a strike or liaising with an employer against the local mining community. Sometimes as many as 300 men would gather high on the mountain. With torches ablaze they would arrive at a house announcing their presence by screaming and shouting, blowing horns and rattling chains. They would break-open the house door, smash windows, destroy all furniture and burn any fabric items in a bonfire. If the homeowner were to resist he would be beaten severely, regularly breaking their bones so as prevent them returning to work. Several members of these bands were possibly idealists, but others were local thugs merely looking for a chance to loot property from the groups' targets—or even, in some cases, from bystanders. The brotherhood flourished during the 1820s and 1830s, the last confirmable reference to a Scotch Cattle raid dates from 1850. However, in 1926, the Scotch Cattle were revived by pickets in the great strike who dressed themselves as Scotch Cattle, evoking the memory of the terroristic enforcement of solidarity that the Cattle had carried out in the past. The origins of the name Scotch Cattle are unclear – one theory is the name derives from the idea a local mine owner kept a herd of Scottish Black Cattle. The stealing and skinning of the animal could be seen as a provocative act, an act of defiance, solidarity against the appalling working and living conditions subjected on the men and their families by the rich landowner.