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Leven, Loch

LEVEN, LOCH, a lake of Kinross-shire, Scotland. It has an oval shape, the longer axis running from N.W. to S.E., has a length of 3! m., and a breadth of 2 m. and is situated near the south and east boundaries of the shire. It lies at a height of 3 50 ft. above the sea. The mean depth is less than 15 ft., with a maximum of 83 ft., the lake being thus one of the shallowest in Scotland. Reclamation works carried on from 1826 to 1836 reduced its area by one quarter, but it still possesses a surface area of 55 sq. m. It drains the county and is itself drained by the Leven. It is famous for the Loch Leven trout (Salmo levenensis, considered by some a variety of 5. trutta), which are remarkable for size and quality. The fishings are controlled by the Loch Leven Angling Association, which organizes competitions attracting anglers from far and near. The loch contains seven islands. Upon St Serf's, the largest, which commemorates the patron saint of Fifeshire, are the ruins of the Priory of Portmoak so named from St Moak, the first abbot the oldest Culdee establishment in Scotland. Some time before 961 it was made over to the bishop of St Andrews, and shortly after 1 144 a body of canons regular was established on it in connexion with the priory of canons regular founded in that year at St Andrews. The second largest island, Castle Island, possesses remains of even greater interest. The first stronghold is supposed to have been erected by Congal, son of Dongart, king of the Picts. The present castle dates from the 13th century and was occasionally used as a royal residence. It is said to have been in the hands of the English for a time, from whom it was delivered by Wallace. It successfully withstood Edward Bah'ol's siege in J 33S) an d was granted by Robert II. to Sir William Douglas of Lugton. It became the prison at various periods of Robert II. ; of Alexander Stuart, earl of Buchan, " the Wolf of Badenoch "; Archibald, earl of Douglas (1429); Patrick Graham, archbishop of St Andrews (who died, still in bondage, on St Serf's Island in 1478), and of Mary, queen of Scots. The queen had visited it more than once before her detention, and had had a presence chamber built in it. Conveyed hither in June 1567 after her surrender at Carberry, she signed her abdication within its walls on the 4th of July and effected her escape on the and of May 1 568. The keys of the castle, which were thrown into the loch during her flight, were found and are preserved at Dalmahoy in Midlothian. Support of Mary's cause had involved Thomas Percy, 7th earl of Northumberland (b. 1528). He too was lodged in the castle in 1569, and after three years' imprisonment was handed over to the English, by whom he was beheaded at York in 1572. The proverb that " Those never got luck who came to Loch Leven " sums up the history of the castle. The causeway connecting the isle with the mainland was long submerged too deeply for use, but the reclamation operations already referred to almost brought it into view again.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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