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Island sanctuaryThe enchanting ruins of Inchmahome Priory grace 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 stood 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 retaining the west half to compensate for the lack of garden space on Inch Talla.
Safe havenFollowing the Scots defeat at the Battle of Pinkie (near Edinburgh) in 1547, little Mary Queen of Scots was brought from Stirling Castle to Inchmahome by her mother Marie of Guise for safety. Even though the young queen stayed for just three weeks, there are many stories about her accomplishments during her visit. Her name is still attached to the little box bower in the centre of the island.
Island paradiseMonastic life ended soon after the Protestant Reformation in 1560. A new life as a tourist attraction, began in the 19th century, 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’!