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  Cadzow Oaks, Hamilton High Parks, Hamilton, South Lanarkshire  
                 
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General view of oak trees

The ancient woodlands around the Avon Water were one of the great assets of the royal hunting estate of Cadzow, which came into the possession of the progenitors of the Hamilton family in the early 14th century. In the later Middle Ages an enclosed game reserve was formed across an angle of the west bank of the river, and in the first half of the 16th century this well-wooded area provided the setting for the relatively short-lived 'Castle in the Wood of Hamilton', now known as Cadzow Castle. Hunting remained a major feature of the forest but by the 1730s when the elegant hunting lodge of Ch‚telherault was built on the opposite (eastern) bank of the river, foxes were tending to replace deer as the main prey of the hounds and mounted hunters, the deer tending merely to become 'graceful appendages to the landscape'.

 
                 
 

This is one of the surviving groups of oak trees in Hamilton High Parks, standing close to the earthwork remains of a small prehistoric promontory fort. With their bulbous and gnarled trunks, these trees constitute a remnant of what is probably the most ancient surviving oak woodland in Scotland. Dendrochronology (scientific tree-ring analysis) has ascribed them to the 1460s, a date which roughly corresponds with the creation of the deer park and which makes these trees the oldest standing - and living! - features of the era of the Hamilton family in this district. Remarkably, these venerable oaks date from the decade after the foundation of the collegiate church by the 1st Lord Hamilton, nowadays an even more distant memory than the one-time palace.

In the mid-19th century, the woodland scenery of Hamilton High Parks provided much inspiration to the Cadzow Artists, a school of landscape painters which included such renowned artists as Horatio McCulloch (1805-67) and Samuel Bough (1822-78).

 
                 
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  [ related links ]              
    Click for a detailed view of the palace with map overlayDetailed view of the palace      
                 
  Click for further informationAerial view of the site   Map - click for further informationLayout of Hamilton Palace Gardens   Click for further informationWilliam Pettigrew plan, 1813    
                 
  Click for further information Sketch of south lawn, 1824   Click for further informationEngraving by John Slezer  
     
                 
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