Hamilton lies in the heart of Lanarkshire, where the Clyde and Avon rivers meet at the head of the Clyde Valley's rich, agricultural lands. Hamilton is also the starting point on the Clyde Valley National Tourist Route heading south.
Go back in time to the 5-star visitor attraction, Low Parks Museum which is the oldest surviving building in Hamilton. It brings to life the history of the Hamilton family and is home to the Cameronians regimental museum.
Hear the world’s second longest echo in the amazing Hamilton Mausoleum in the Palace Grounds, the title of longest now held by a disused oil tank at Inchindown, Ross-shire.
Hamilton was originally known as Cadzow, derived from the Celtic word Cadihou, the name of the 6th-century summer hunting lodge of Rederech, ruler of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde. It was here in 568AD that St Kentigern (St Mungo), the patron saint of Glasgow, converted the king of the Britons and his queen, Langoreth to Christianity.
During the 12th century the area was created a Royal Barony by David I and under the rule of Robert the Bruce, was given to Walter FitzGilbert of Hameldone in Northumberland. Walter's descendant Sir James Hamilton married Mary Stewart, the sister of James III, and was created Lord Hamilton. The Barony continued to be called Cadzow until 1445 when a charter from James II to the first Lord Hamilton allowed the town and district to be renamed Hamilton. It became a Royal Burgh in 1548-49.
Cadzow Castle, originally built during the reign of Alexander II on the site of the hunting lodge, was rebuilt around 1530 for Sir James Hamilton of Finnart who, in 1568, gave shelter to Mary, Queen of Scots, after her dramatic escape from Loch Leven Castle. The town and castle were subsequently razed by the Crown in reprisal against the actions of the Marquis. In the 18th century, Cadzow Castle was rebuilt as a folly and is now owned by Historic Scotland, is situated within the grounds of Chatelherault Country Park not far from the park's magnificent Chatelherault hunting lodge, named after the Duke of Chatelherault, the title bestowed upon James Hamilton by Henry II of France in the 16th-century.
This bustling historic town was once the fiefdom of the Dukes of Hamilton. The Duke's Hunting Lodge at Chatelherault Country Park, the Hamilton Mausoleum, the Low Parks Museum and the Parish Church designed by William Adam are all reminders of the links between the town and the Hamilton family.
Chatelherault was designed in the 1730s by the famous Scottish architect William Adam, who also built Hamilton Old Parish Church in 1734. The church, the only one Adam ever built, is the oldest building in Hamilton still used for its original purpose. Of the other great landmarks commissioned by the Hamilton family, only the Mausoleum, the family tomb with its 120ft high dome, built in the mid-1800s, still stands. The magnificent Hamilton Palace which stood nearby in the Low Parks area was demolished in the 1920s and is now part of Strathclyde Country Park.
During the 17th century, Hamilton was the main stopping place for the Scotland to England stagecoach. The coaching inn is now the Low Parks Museum on Muir Street. (The old route south through Muir Wynd had long been recognised as difficult for coaches. To avoid this route, a new highway was constructed in 1819 by Thomas Telford that included a bridge over the Cadzow Burn - and the commercial heart of the town shifted to Cadzow Street).
In 1791 Hamilton Parish had just over 5000 residents but within 100 years that figure had increased by 700% to more than 35,000 due to the cotton and coal industry booms and the opening of the Caledonian Central Railway Station.