Inchmahome Priory is situated on Inchmahome, the largest of three islands in the centre of Lake of Menteith.
The priory was founded in 1238 by the Earl of Menteith, Walter Comyn, for a small community of the Augustinian order (the Black Canons). The Comyn family were one of the most powerful in Scotland at the time, and had an imposing country house on Inch Talla, one of the other islands on the Lake of Menteith. There is some evidence that there was a church on the island before the priory was established.
The priory has a long history of receiving many notable guests. King Robert the Bruce visited three times: in 1306, 1308 and 1310. His visits were likely politically motivated, as the first prior had sworn allegiance to Edward I, the English king. In 1358 the future King Robert II also stayed at the priory. In 1547 the priory served as a refuge for Queen Mary, aged four, hidden here for a few weeks following the disastrous defeat of the Scots army at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh during the Rough Wooing.
The decline of the monastic orders in the 16th century was hastened by the fact that the heads of abbeys and priories became appointees of the local landowner, who often did not share the religious goals of the monks or ordained priests. In 1547, the office passed to John, Lord Erskine, who later became head of Cambuskenneth and Dryburgh abbeys. The Scottish Reformation meant that there were no new priests being ordained, and religious land and buildings gradually passed into secular hands, leading to the priory's inevitable decline. In 1606 the land and property passed to the Erskine family, and later to the Marquess of Montrose; the 6th Duke of Montrose passed it into the care of the State in 1926.
The author, socialist and nationalist politician Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham and his wife Gabriela Cunninghame Graham are buried in the ruined chancel of the priory, where there is also a stone commemorating his nephew, and heir, Admiral A.E.M.B. Cunninghame Graham.
Although most of the buildings are now ruins, much of the original 13th-century structure remains, and it is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, who maintain and preserve it as a scheduled ancient monument.
The priory can be visited by boat, operated by Historic Scotland from the nearby pier at Port of Menteith, from March to September.References:
The two-tiered Roman amphitheatre is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city of Arles, which thrived in Roman times. Built in 90 AD, the amphitheatre was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators, and was built to provide entertainment in the form of chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles. Today, it draws large crowds for bullfighting as well as plays and concerts in summer.
The building measures 136 m in length and 109 m wide, and features 120 arches. It has an oval arena surrounded by terraces, arcades on two levels (60 in all), bleachers, a system of galleries, drainage system in many corridors of access and staircases for a quick exit from the crowd. It was obviously inspired by the Colosseum in Rome (in 72-80), being built slightly later (in 90).
With the fall of the Empire in the 5th century, the amphitheatre became a shelter for the population and was transformed into a fortress with four towers (the southern tower is not restored). The structure encircled more than 200 houses, becoming a real town, with its public square built in the centre of the arena and two chapels, one in the centre of the building, and another one at the base of the west tower.
This new residential role continued until the late 18th century, and in 1825 through the initiative of the writer Prosper Mérimée, the change to national historical monument began. In 1826, expropriation began of the houses built within the building, which ended by 1830 when the first event was organized in the arena - a race of the bulls to celebrate the taking of Algiers.
Arles Amphitheatre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with other Roman buildings of the city, as part of the Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments group.