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History of Loch Leven

The history of Loch Leven is rich and long. In 1335 Loch Leven castle was one of only 3 or 4 strongholds which had not fallen to the English. It was occupied by supporters of King David II (the son of Robert the Bruce) and was attacked by an army supported by the English monarch. The English force, aided by a number of Scottish Lairds (Lords) laid siege to the castle for nearly nine months without success. Frustrated, they attempted to flood out the occupants by blocking the Leven River and so increasing the water level of the loch. The plan backfired, however, when a group from the island broke down the dam during the night, the water surged out drowning many of the attackers who were camped on the river banks nearby.

View from Castle IslandThe best known tale of the loch, though, is that of the tragic Mary Queen of Scots. Mary Stuart was born in 1542 and within a week of her birth her father, James V, died making her Queen of Scotland. Mary was brought up in France and in 1558 she was married to the Dauphin, Francis of France, who died two years later. Mary returned to Scotland and married Lord Darnley. It was not a happy marriage, he murdered David Rizzio her secretary and friend. A year later, he himself was murdered.
Mary, pregnant with James VI, proceeded to stage her own abduction so that she could marry the Earl of Bothwell who had been accused of murdering Darnley. The Scottish nobles were incensed, she was imprisoned here in the castle on Loch Leven and was forced to abdicate.
After eleven months one of the young pages fell in love with Mary, stole the keys and rowed her across to the shore where sympathetic nobles were waiting for her. It is still believed that the keys to the castle lie at the bottom of the loch where they were thrown. Mary was hidden by supporters while she gathered an army to fight to regain the throne but she was defeated at the Battle of Langside in 1568. With nowhere else to go, Mary fled to England seeking support from her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. Unfortunately Queen Elizabeth saw Mary as a threat to her own throne and imprisoned her. Mary spent the last twenty years of her life in prison before being executed at Fotheringay in 1587.

Balado -- Carnbo -- Crook of Devon -- Kinnesswood -- Kinross -- Loch Leven -- Milnathort -- Rumbling Bridge -- Scotlandwell