Isle of Albion
Photographed: Friday 26th September 2014
Site rating:  

Inchmahome Priory (from the Gaelic "Innis MoCholmaig", or "Island of St Colmaig") was founded in 1238AD by the Earl of Menteith, Walter Comyn, as an Augustinian religious house. It sits on an island in the western half of Lake of Menteith.

Like many of Scotland's historic sites, written records of Inchmahome Priory are relatively sparse when compared to their English cousins. However, Robert the Bruce is known to have visited three times, in 1306AD, 1308AD and 1310AD. The young Queen Mary, when aged just four, also hid here during 1547AD following the defeat of the Scottish army at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh.

Following the Scottish Reformation in 1560AD, the priory fell into decline. In 1606AD, it passed into the hands of the Erskine family, and later to the Marquess of Montrose, who eventually gifted the ruins to the state in 1926AD.

Today, the ruins of Inchmahome Priory are only accessible via a small motor launch from the Port of Menteith. The ruins are extensive, and it's very easy to get a sense of what the priory might have been like at its height. The priory church is well preserved, with the east window still standing, and a substantial portion of the west front. One wing of the cloister still survives, but the most impressive of the remaining buildings is probably the chapter house. This was used as a mausoleum in the 1750s, and was re-roofed around that time.

The island on which Inchmahome Priory is small and heavily wooded. This means the ruins feel enclosed within their own little sylvan realm, and when a gap does open up between the trees, water is visible beyond. This adds a lovely charm to the site, providing a sense of other-worldliness and seclusion that I found strongly appealing.