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Explore the Remains of Cadzow Castle

Cadzow Castle lies in ruins approximately two miles southeast of Hamilton in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. It lies above the gorge of the Avon Water to the west of the hunting lodge in the beautiful grounds of what is now the Chatelherault Country Park. The Park was the pleasure grounds of the Hamilton Palace. The town was known as Cadzow till 1455 when its name was changed to Hamilton in honor of the First Lord.

The ancient kings of Strathclyde were supposed to have been a hunting lodge at Cadzow. The original Cadzow Castle was built in the 12th Century as a residence for King David I and was the royal hunting lodge for Alexander II and Alexander III. The castle along with the lands went to the once powerful family of Comyn. It fell into the hands of the Crown during the controversial reign of John Baliol.

King Robert Bruce granted these lands along with others to Walter Fitz-Gilbert, the founder of the Hamilton family. It was then rebuilt by Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, around 1530, for his half-brother James Hamilton, the 2nd Earl of Arran. Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here after her dramatic escape from Loch Leven Castle in 1568.

In 1572, Arran fortified Cadzow Castle but in 1579 it was attacked and besieged by the Crown. Subsequently it was captured and destroyed by explosives. No one lived here again after this but it was partially rebuilt around1820 by Alexander, the 10th Duke of Hamilton to act as a picturesque folly within the parkland of Hamilton Palace.

The Castle has now been a ruin for centuries and the visible structures are a strongly-constructed keep with drum towers at the southwest and southeast with vaulted chambers below. Now maintained by Historic Scotland the ruins are too dangerous to visit. One can get a good view of the ruins from the Duke’s Bridge built across the Avon Gorge.

Cadzow Castle is the subject of a fine ballad by Sir Walter Scott, describing of the reception of James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, by the Clan Hamilton, after he assassinated the Regent.