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Cadzow Castle

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2016.

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Cadzow, a burn, a ruined castle, an ancient forest, and a former parish of NW central Lanarkshire. The burn issues from Wackenwae Well in Glasford parish; runs 5 miles north-eastward to the town of Hamilton; goes through that town into the Duke of Hamilton's lower park; runs there subterraneously through a long artificial conduit; and falls into the Clyde at the old ford below Hamilton Bridge. The Castle stands in the gorge of Avon Water, 1½ mile SSE of Hamilton; crowns a rock, nearly 200 feet high, on the left side of the stream; dates from the times of a semi-fabulous prince of the name Caw, prior to the era of the Scoto-Saxon monarchy; was a royal residence in the times of Alexander II. and Alexander III.; passed, in the time of Robert Bruce, to the family of Hamilton; appears to have been often repaired or rebuilt; consists now of little more than a keep, covered with ivy and embosomed with wood; and looks, amid the grandeur and romance of the gorge around it, like ` sentinel of fairy-land. ' The ancient forest surrounds the castle; contains, on the opposite side of the Avon, the summer-house of Chatelherault, built in 1730; is now called Hamilton Wood; comprises about 1500 acres; is browsed by a noble herd of fallow deer; and is the scene of Sir Walter Scott's famous ballad of Cadzow Castle. Of it Mr Rt. Hutchison writes, in Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society (1881):-` The two enclosures now known as the Upper and Lower Oaks, the former comprising 70 and the latter 83 acres, form together part only of the old forest, because adjoining these remains on the S and W are old pasture fields and plantations, surrounded by a stone wall 6 feet high and about 3 miles in extent, which was most probably the boundary in feudal times. The soil is admirably adapted for the growth and development of oaks, being a clayey loam resting on a subsoil of clay. In some places the trees stand quite close together, while in others they stand singly, or seem to surround large open patches covered with rich natural pasture, on which the famous breed of native wild white cattle browse. The principal characteristic of all these trees is their shortness of stature, combined with great girth of trunk, one of the largest, with a bole 30 feet long, girthing 26 feet 7 inches at 1 yard from the ground. Most of the trees, even the healthiest among them, are fast hastening to decay. No planting, pruning, or felling is allowed within the forest. Tradition states that these oaks were planted about 1140 by David, Earl of Huntingdon, afterwards King of Scotland; but this cannot be looked upon as a fact, for their appearance and habit clearly point to their self-sown existence.' Since this was written, five of these monarchs of the Chase were levelled by the great storm of 26 Nov. 1880; so huge and weighty were their fallen trunks, that in June 1881 they had to be blown up with dynamite. The wild cattle are pure white save for black muzzles, hoofs, and tips of the horns; show their wildness chiefly in their fear of man; have only one recognised leader among the bulls; and in Nov. 1880 numbered 16 bulls and 40 cows. Regarded commonly as survivors of our native wild cattle, they are held by Dr Jn. Alex. Smith, in his Notes on the Ancient Cattle of Scotland (1873), to be rather 'an ancient fancy breed of domesticated cattle preserved for their beauty in the parks of the nobility.' The ancient parish, quite or nearly identical with Hamilton parish, was variously called Cadyhou, Cadyou, and Cadzow; and it changed that name to Hamilton in 1445. See Avon and Hamilton.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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