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Inchmahome Priory

Lake of Menteith Category Historic Sites
Inchmahome Priory image

Set on its island in the scenic Lake of Menteith, Inchmahome Priory provided an idyllic environment for the Augustinian canons who settled here in the early 1200s.

The island sanctuary functioned for over 300 years, offering solace not only to the canons but also to royal visitors. King Robert Bruce visited three times, and Mary Queen of Scots once, in 1547, when she was four. In 1560, the Protestant Reformation effectively brought monastic life at Inchmahome to an end.

Around 1238, Augustinian canons arrived on the island to establish a monastery. They did so at the behest of the mighty Earl of Menteith, with the agreement of the Bishop of Dunblane. The priory was built on the low-lying eastern half of the island. The earl retained the west half to compensate for the lack of garden space on Inch Talla.

The cloister buildings to the south of the church are now largely ruined. The chapter house in the east range survives well, having been converted to a mausoleum in the 1600s. It now houses a fine collection of carved stones, including the charming double effigy of Walter Stewart (died 1295) and Countess Mary, depicted in a loving embrace.

At the disastrous Battle of Pinkie (near Edinburgh) in September 1547, a vast Scottish army was routed by disciplined English forces. This was the last great conflict in the War of the Rough Wooing, intended to coerce Scotland into agreeing a marriage between Mary Queen of Scots and King Edward VI of England.

Queen Mary, then aged four, was brought for safety from Stirling to Inchmahome, with her mother Mary of Guise. She stayed for just three weeks, but there are many stories about her accomplishments during her visit. Her name is still attached to the little boxwood bower in the centre of the island.

Monastic life ended soon after the Protestant Reformation in 1560. A new life as a tourist attraction began in the 1800s, thanks largely to the writings of Walter Scott and the arrival of the railway. The influx of English visitors even resulted in the change of name – from ‘Loch of Inchmahome’ to ‘Lake of Menteith’.

The lake and island continue to attract many visitors. A variety of trees and flowers surround the romantic ruined buildings, including three gnarled sweet chestnut trees thought to date from the 1500s, and in the spring the island is awash with colour. The lake also attracts fishermen throughout the season.

Admission

• Adult £5.50
• Child £3.30
• Concession £4.40
• Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Admission prices are subject to change.

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