Ranked: The best cow statues in Central Cambridge

They are udderly captivating 😉

If you’ve been in Cambridge over the last few days you may have noticed something quite strange dotted around the city. Cows. Everywhere. And I don’t mean the usual herds you see grazing the Backs or Midsummer Common, but rather colourfully decorated statues, each with their own name and description, each designed by a different artist.

There are 44 large cows and 46 ‘mini moos’ to see; we have included our top 15 large cows to save you from walking round and having to find them yourself. Also, I walked over 6km for this article and for someone that’s from a central college, that might as well have been a marathon. The things we do for the Tab.

15. Honey 

Location: New Square Park (by Grafton)

Blue cow statue with flowers painted onto it

Honey is quite honestly a lovely cow. According to the sign, the inspiration behind this cow is the declining bee population, and the flowers you see adorning the cow are a range of British flowers to demonstrate the beauty of the countryside. Pleasant to look at and carrying an important message, Honey makes it to the top 15. Added points for the honeycomb udder and lovely eyelashes as well.

However, Honey didn’t seem to have that extra pizzazz (maybe you don’t think she needs it!), but to me, she just didn’t stand out enough. Also, there has to be a bee-cow pun somewhere that could’ve been used as the name. Overall though, a solid cow.

14. Doodle Cow

Location: The Grafton Entrance

Mint coloured cow covered in cow facts

To be quite frank, Doodle Cow scares me. The black eyes and red pupils give it a terrifying stare, the mouth makes it look kinda grumpy? But it is this fear that draws me into Doodle Cow, that makes me want to know more. Turns out, Doodle Cow is covered in cow facts and that probably couldn’t be any more wholesome. Talk about not judging a book by its cover.

To me, Doodle Cow didn’t live up to its name. I wanted more doodles, more art, and I felt the cow lacked in this. Extra points for being painted in Cambridge blue though.

13. The Enviromoontal Cow

Location: New Square Park (by Grafton)

White cow covered in environmental messages

Straight off the bat, an incredible pun here. More importantly, this cow displays an excellent message about the consumption of cow products in relation to the environment. The design, although plain, works well with creating a stark image of our suffering environment and I also really loved how each section was designed to look like cuts of beef.

This cow lacked in description, the sign didn’t say much about the intentions behind the cow but it could be argued that the cow speaks for itself. Also, I really liked the hay (not sure if it’s there on purpose?).

12. Dairy Curie

Location: Christ’s Pieces

A brightly coloured cow with lots of science symbols

Once again, Dairy Curie scores well because of the incredible pun. She’s colourful, fun, and definitely eye-catching! The use of neon colours is very reminiscent of radioactivity and I’m loving the science-y symbols (the most I can say for a humanities student). I also love how each science-y thing is inspired by chemical scientists in Cambridge!!

However, Dairy Curie is a bit all over the place. I feel like there is a large empty space on her stomach and around her body, and although the sign says the expressionist pattern is a reflection of the importance of continuous experimentation, I feel like this isn’t clear in the model.

11. STEM cow 

Location: Queen’s Green (near Backs)

Black and gold cow covered in science facts

This cow? Super cool. Signed by local scientists (did they bring the scientists to the cow? Did the cow get brought to the house of each scientist? I have so many questions) and modelled after computer parts like those in the Acorn computer, this cow could not be funkier. The sign says it ‘aims to visually communicate Cambridge’s rich scientific heritage’ and quite honestly I think it does an immaculate job.

Not only this, but the neck of the cow has science facts!! My only critique is that it doesn’t stand out as much compared to the other cows, not only in colour but also in design.

Neck of a black and gold cow statue which contains science facts

10. Strength in Numbers

Location: Great St Mary’s Church, Senate House Hill (King’s Parade)
White cow with many stick figures holding hands painted on it

At first glance, this cow seemed a bit boring. No interesting puns in the name, and the cow is mostly a plain white colour. However, the more you look at it, the more there is to see. The sign says the design inspiration comes from the artist’s sister, who works within the mental health sector in Cambridge and the message is honestly really sweet.

close-up of a white cow that has people painted holding hands on it

The sign also says it is hoped that the piece brings happiness to the viewer, and it  does. Although probably unintentional, I did spend a good few minutes chortling over this particular figure, who has no one attached to their legs and is just suspended. Also, I took great enjoyment in the fact they don’t have necks and it just looks funny.

The only reason this cow didn’t score higher is due to the pure creativity of the other cows!!

9. Sir Isaac Mooton

Location: Old Divinity School, St John’s Street

Cow statue made to look like Isaac Newton, with hair and waistcoat

I mean. Guys. It has HAIR and a waistcoat that has apples on it!!! This cow is quite incredible and I love the way they made the cow into Isaac Newton instead of making it about him. Although I took great personal enjoyment out of this cow, someone did walk past as I was taking a picture and called it an ‘atrocity’ (“why would you put him on a cow”), so Mooton gets downgraded for that.

8. The Moooon

Location: The Lion Yard, Ground Floor

A cow painted as a navy blue sky and the moon

Silly old me didn’t get a picture of the other side of this cow, but one side is a blood moon with the milky way above it, and the other is the moon with nebula surrounding it. This cow is stunning, I mean look at that shine!! The stars – perfection, but what makes this cow stand out is its staging! There’s a moon on the ground and a rocket behind it, this cow is only a part of the show.

From a practical point of view, this cow is also near other cows, which is helpful when you’re an hour into the cow tour and already tired.

7. Cowbridges

Location: University Arms Hotel, Regent Street (by Parker’s Piece)

Cow with decoration of bridges of Cambridge

The artwork on this cow is actually immaculate, it’s so detailed and I honestly have no idea how they painted this onto a cow. Great use of the udder (that feels weird to say) and I’m loving the name – although it does just make me think of Crushbridge. Also, it looks like they’re wearing a sweater!!!

The use of classic Cambridge landmarks is a really nice touch, with each side of the cow showing different views of the River Cam.

6. Wandering Lions

Location: Cambridge University Botanic Garden (Hills Road Entrance)

A cow depicting lion statues and the Fitzwilliam museum

Before this cow, I had no idea there was a local legend that the Fitzwilliam Lions like to go wandering at night. Adorable. The cow depicts them walking around Cambridge at different points of time, with them outside the Museum in spring, walking below WWI planes in the summer and WWII planes in the autumn, and finally a nod to CS Lewis’ Narnia in winter (who taught at Magdalene College).

The only thing I was slightly confused about was why this cow was outside the Botanic Gardens and not the Fitz? Did the wandering lions move the cow there??

5. Penny

Location: The Lion Yard, Ground Floor

A cow made of coins

There’s no denying this cow is cool. According to the sign, the artist recreated the markings of a Friesian cow using copper and silver coins, and the natural tarnishing of the coins is all part of the piece. I personally loved that they gave the cow a quiff, and the punny names have sure been missed.

4. Hey Diddle Diddle

Location: Great St Mary’s Church, Senate House Hill (King’s Parade)

A cow with Hey Diddle Diddle painted on it

Minus the person leaning on the cow in the picture, this is a lovely piece of art. There’s not much to say about this cow, other than the fact the nostalgia of the nursery rhymes and just how comfortingly it has been painted means it’s very pleasant to look at. Also, the eyes closed is a small, but noticeable change compared to other cows, and I’m hoping was done to reflect the sleepy vibes of the nursery rhyme.

3. Moss cow

Location: Cambridge University Botanic Garden (Hills Road Entrance)

A cow made of moss

We’re down to the top three! And no other cow is as deserving than Moss Cow. I was, admittedly, slightly confused at first (is this because it’s outside the Botanic Gardens??), but luckily good old Mossy has a QR code tied to the front of his neck. This link is packed with information about both Cambridge and Moss Cow!

It turns out, Moss Cow is actively doing the environment some good by absorbing CO2 and other pollutants, as well as emitting oxygen at the same time. The sensor on his side shows the air quality in the surrounding area, and data from other sensors around Cambridge can be seen on the website. According to the sign, Mossy’s aim is to raise awareness of climate-positive changes people can make in their own live, style and activism make Moss Cow one of my favourites!

2. May-Belle

Location: Christ’s Pieces

A cow painted with the sunset and a view of Kings College

A lovely play on words that reflects one of Cambridge’s long-standing traditions: The May Ball. This cow, although simple, is striking in it’s gorgeous sunset and the sign indicates that it has depicted the Red Poll cows’ gentle grazing on the city’s iconic green spaces that, mixed with the bustling city, gives Cambridge a unique sense of being in the country.

Also, this cow was photographed being kissed by an actual cow and that made me really happy.

1. Moomoo-o-tron III

Location: Peas Hill (by the Market)

Steampunk-esque cow

YOU CANNOT TOP THIS COW. Not only does it look super cool anyway, with its robotic, steampunk features, but this cow has an entire backstory. According to the sign, aliens Zharor and Youpew were sent to Earth on a critical mission to find the missing Supreme Leader and roam the streets of Cambridge disguised in their mechanical cow. They enter through the elevated door in the cow’s hoof and control the cow from the goggles cockpit!!

Close up of a mechanical cow depicting two small aliens in the goggles

I absolutely love the detail that went into these two aliens. The potted plant. The Cambridge A to Z. And, the goggles glow in the dark at night!! Impeccable.

Don’t forget there are also 46 mini moos to visit! The cows will be in Cambridge until the 4th September, when they will be auctioned off to raise money for a local children’s charity, Break. To learn more about the cows and find the trail map, visit their website: cowsaboutcambridge.co.uk

All images are author’s own.

Featured Image credit: Hannah Huang

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