The Motte Hill
By Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton

The Motte Hill

In Hamilton’s Low Parks, north-east of the town centre, near to the Clyde, there is a motte. This is all that remains of an early fortified structure and it can be presumed that the early settlement clustered around this site.
Settlers would have been attracted here because a fortified building offered a measure of protection to those nearby, while the castle and its occupants would have looked to their neighbours for labour and a supply of necessities. This is probably the first settlement site of Cadzow or Hamilton as it is now called.

Me at The Motte Hill..JPG

On Sunday the 23rd of April I took two of my boys Daniel and Ryan over to the Motte to tell them the story about it and to show them the area. When we got there, I was actually looking for evidence of an old Ice House that was situated at the back of the Motte.
We walked close to the M74 through all the overgrowth and as we approached the side of the M74 two deer who were quietly watching us without us noticing them, jumped up and bolted towards the mausoleum. This just made my boys day.

So, I didn’t find the Icehouse due to two reasons, one, the area where it should have been was densely overgrown with nettles and two, I could only get in so far, but I did look as hard as I could and I couldn’t see any evidence of the old Icehouse.

Daniel & Ryan at The Motte Hill.

If you are wondering what an icehouse was, it was basically a food storage area dug into the ground to keep the food cool. Icehouses were used by large estate houses in the day before electricity and most had one, this particular Icehouse would most definitely have been attached to the Hamilton Palace in some way, possibly the Older Hamilton Palace and not the one that we now know it as.
Going back to the Motte, we took our metal detector with us to see if we could find something of interest and we were getting bleeps everywhere, after a bit of investigation and looking around we came to the conclusion that this place has been used for many years by teenagers and drinkers, as it was riddled by old cans and broken bottles.

1896 Motte Hill Map.

We did, however, find some interesting stones that look as if they have come from an old building, so I am going to have to look into this to see why there are so many here. When I looked at some old maps, there was a monument listed, however, this is also gone.

After walking out of the deep undergrowth we stumbled across a dead fox that looked as if it had just happened in the last week, this gave my boys a fright. There were also rectangular shaped holes at the top of the Motte, so it looks like someone has been recently been digging, but looking for what I don’t know, hopefully, nothing has been taken from this scheduled monument.

Old Stone at the Motte.

If any of you have any knowledge of the Icehouse then please let me know. Once the better weather comes in I will be going back to the Motte to have a closer look.

I would like to point out that the metal detector was taken to the Motte Hill for the purpose of making the trip with my boys more exciting. I did not take a spade or any other digging objects with me on the trip. I would also like to note that digging at any scheduled monument is illegal and anyone who is seen to be doing this should be reported to the police.


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