Billy: from Persia to Llandudno

A Kashmir goat in Llandudno (Image:

Kashmir goats have been a key fixture on Llandudno's Great Orme since the 19th Century, and were a big hit among social media users around the world in March 2020, when they were able to roam around the idyllic seaside town. But did you know the goats had a Persian and Welsh link dating back almost two hundred years?

When Queen Victoria took to the throne in June 1837, you can imagine the array of gifts she received from monarchies across the world. From the Shah of Persia - Mohammed Shah Qajar - he sent Her Majesty some Kashmir goats. What she did with them was prepare them for a long and loving connection between them and North Wales today.

You see, Queen Victoria raised the herd of Kashmir goats and brought them to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in 1884. They then became the key mascots for the 1st battalion, which each generation affectionately known as Billy. All the Billies have served wonders for the Welsh Fusiliers, marching at the front of all their ceremonies. Some of the same breed still reside at the Great Orme, other Billies have retired elsewhere.

It's difficult to know where Kashmir goats truly came from. It's easy to speculate they came from the Kashmir region in northern India, but it's likely the Silk Road played a role in the transportation of these particular goats, particularly as they're common in countries like Mongolia and China. 

Goats generally have been domesticated in Western Iran for 10,000 years and cashmere fleeces, from the Billies, have been used in Iran since at least the 14th Century (known as pashminas back then). It's been reported that thousands of tonnes of fleeces from these goats are being produced in the country every year.


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