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Island sanctuaryThe enchanting ruins of Inchmahome Priory stand on the largest of three islands in the Lake of Menteith. The priory was established around 1238 by a small community of Augustinian canons. Their founder and patron was Walter Comyn, Earl of Menteith, whose residence was on the adjacent island of Inch Talla. The secluded location offered the brethren isolation from the secular world, and tranquillity in which to carry out the worship of God.
The Augustinian monastery of ‘Inchmaquhomok’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.
Safe havenAt 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.
Island paradiseMonastic 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’.