Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hamilton (Cadzow) Park Cattle of the early 1800's - Immortalized by Sir Walter Scott -

"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."

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, . . . surrounded by a stone wall 6 feet high and about 3 miles in extent, which was most probably the boundary in feudal times. . .

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.'

Drawing of the Hamilton white cattle in 1835:

Sir Walter Scott spent the Christmas of 1801 at Hamilton Palace. Must read Link to Annals of the Andersonian Naturalist's Society commenting on the visit of Sir Walter Scot to the Hamilton herd in Scotland.

BALLAD of CADZOW (Hamilton) CASTLE Excerpt:

Through the huge oaks of Evandale,
Whose limbs a thousand years have worn,
What sullen roar comes down the gale,
And drowns the hunter's pealing horn.

Mightiest of all the beasts of chase
That roam in woody Caledonia,
Crashing the forest in his race,
The Mountain Bull comes thundering on.

Fierce on the hunter's quivered band,
He rolls his eyes of swarthy glow.
Spurns with black hoof and horn the land,
And tosses high his mane of snow.

And well the chieftain's lance has flown,
Struggling in blood the savage lies,
His roar is sunk in hollow groan.

Tis noon against the knotted oak,
The hunters rest the idle spear.
Curls through the trees the slender smoke
Where yeomen light the woodland.

Proudly the chieftain marked his clan,
On greenwood lay all careless thrown,
Yet missed his eye the boldest man,
That bore the name of Hamilton

"It is highly probable that Sir Walter Scott's ballad awakened the interest of the ducal family, and that a successful attempt to form or collect a herd was made, either from a few survivors of the former one that had been kept somewhere else, or from a distinct one. Under any circumstances a small herd of white cattle, numbering about a score, were browsing in Cadzow by 1809, and the cows being horned and the bulls humble (means POLLED) would seem to indicate a herd in process of formation from different sources. Later the whole herd became humble. For twenty-five years past, at least, they have been all horned."