In common with other Scottish burghs, Lanark had extensive common grounds shared by the burgesses. One use for this land was in grazing livestock including cattle. It not being economic for each burgess to own a bull, the town acquired a community bull which was housed in this close. A part-time bull keeper, usually one of the local tradesmen, was employed to care for it.
One keeper became so attached to the beast in his charge that when the animal was retired he bought it and kept it as a pet.
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