The Lake of Menteith and Inchmahome: A lake in Scotland?

Nestled in the countryside of western Stirlingshire lies Scotland’s only lake: The Lake of Menteith. This lake, however, had once been a loch. In the Blaeu’s ‘Atlas of Scotland’, published in 1654, it is referred to as “Loch Inche mahumo” and in 19th Century held the name ‘Loch of Menteith’. So when did the Loch of Menteith become a lake?

This still remains a mystery, but the name had definitely changed by 1899, as highlighted by our 40th Anniversary item: ’12 Views and a Map of Lake Menteith’. The author of the publication was Eneas Mackay, a publisher and bookseller in Stirling. He operated from the late 19th century until the mid-20th century and was originally a newsagent and stationer. His premises were located on 43 Murray Place in Stirling.  Mackay would go on to publish several works of local interest.

The publication ’12 Views and a Map of Lake Menteith’ appears to have been included in Andrew Fleming Hutchison’s ‘The Lake of Menteith: Its Islands And Vicinity With Historical Accounts of The Priory of Inchmahome and The Earldom Of Menteith’.

Within ’12 Views and a Map of Lake Menteith’ there are, unsurprisingly, 12 images of views and one map! The images, however, provide visual details of the history contained within the historic loch and its islands.

The Lake of Menteith is home to one of Scotland’s famous priories: Inchmahome. Sitting on the largest of the three islands, the priory was established in 1238 by Augustinian canons. The impressive remains of the priory still stand today and they were once visited by some Scotland’s famous historic figures.

It is reputed that Robert the Bruce visited the priory on three occasions: 1305, 1308 and 1310. In 1358, the future King Robert II visited the island.

Its most famous visitor was Mary Queen of Scots. In 1547, Henry VIII had attempted to force Scotland to agree to the marriage of Mary Queen of Scots to Edward VI, Henry’s son. This offer was refused. The result was the Battle of Pinkie, fought as part of the War of the Rough Wooing.

The battle was a resounding defeat for Scotland. Warfare had forced Mary and her mother, Mary of Guise, to hide on the island of Inchmahome as fears grew for their safety. Aged just 4, Mary would stay here for three weeks and would later be smuggled out the county to France. A bower, a leafy arbour, on the centre of the island is named after the Queen Mary and highlighted in the one pictures of MacKay’s publication.