port of menteith

History Of The Port

Every wave of the early migrant people who first populated Scotland, seems to have had a presence here in Menteith. From the first Mesolithic hunter gatherers, the earliest Neolithic farmers, through the Stone Age centuries to the Bronze and Iron Age folk, the Romans and the early Christians, all these ages of man have passed this way. As a result there are, for instance, cup and ring marked stones and crannogs to be discovered and of course, the lovely ruined priory on the Isle of Inchmahome.

Many people from Menteith have figured in Scotland’s sometimes troubled history, yet there were no great battles here, only little skirmishes. But lying on the boundary between Highland and Lowland Scotland inevitably led to traditions of conflict between raiding clansmen from the glens to the north, among them, Rob Roy MacGregor, and the local resident farming folk.

There are royal connections too. It is said that Robert the Bruce visited the Augustinian island Priory of Inchmahome immediately prior to his victory at Bannockburn in 1314 and the infant Mary, Queen of Scots was brought to the island for her safety after the disastrous Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547 and immediately prior to her departure for France. Charles 11 had occasion to stop here and more recently, Queen Victoria passed this way during her visits to the Trossachs.

Much of the fine farmland on the lower lying area owes its existence to the eighteenth and nineteenth century clearance of huge areas of peat, yet much of the moss land remains. Indeed, Flanders Moss is Europe’s biggest raised peat bog and, as such, is a National Nature Reserve, which now provides a viewing tower and a board walk for public access. During the Second World War, many tons of ammunition were stored in this area, forming the largest munitions dump in the UK.

This, therefore, is a real touchstone of the past where history ancient and modern, seems to come alive, where writers, poets and painters have paid homage to this place’s rich heritage. Among them Robert Bontine Cunningham Graham, local laird, politician and writer, who more than anyone perhaps, absorbed the unique atmosphere of the Port of Menteith and its lake – the only one in Scotland.