Situated on an island in the middle of Lake Menteith, the only ‘Lake’ in Scotland, Inchmahome Priory is a ruined Augustine (The Black Cannons) priory founded in 1238 by Walter Comyn, who was the Earl of Menteith. The Earl is likely to have founded the monastery for the good of his soul, and to show of his status as an important landowner. The priory would also provide his family with a final resting place befitting of his grandeur!
The island is reached by a boat from the pier at the Port of Menteith, although the island is busy in the summer season, it has a peaceful atmosphere, as befitting a place where quiet devotions were carried out every day for over 400 years.
The chapter house (which has been re-roofed) contains a number of the grave slabs and effigies, which were originally situated within the church, but were removed here to protect them from the elements. The oldest is a double effigy of Walter (first Stewart Earl) and his countess Mary. The knight pictured on the right is also from the Stewart line and two other slabs adorn the walls of the Chapter House, one of Sir John Drummond, and the other too worn to be identified.
The priory has had many distinguished royal visitors; Robert the Bruce came here three times in 1306, 1308 and 1310, probably for political motives, as the first abbot had sworn allegiance to Edward the I, the English King. The priory was also a refuge for Mary Queen of Scots, who stayed here in 1547. She was only four years old at the time, and stayed for three weeks, mainly for her own safety after the disastrous battle of Pinkie in September of that year.
The area is also associated with fairy lore, Bogle Knowe (NS 584 996) is a hill traditionally seen as a fairy abode, and on the Southern shore of the lake opposite the Priory, is a long finger of land called Arnmach. This is said to have been constructed by the fair folk, who were tasked with completing a rope of sand by the Earl of Menteith. He is traditionally said to have read a fairy book and released them into this world.
Finally, after they pestered him out of his mind, he gave them Coire nan Uruisgean on Ben Venue as a meeting place, and they bothered him no more. The fairies are still said to meet at this place, which is situated half way up the mountain to the West of Lake Menteith.
Directions: A boat boat ferries passengers 12 at a time to the priory from the Port of Menteith, on the B8034 off the A81.