" The sacred tapers' lights are gone;
Grey moss has clad the altar stone;
The holy image is o'erthrown;
The bell has ceased to toll ;—
The long-ribbed aisles are burst and sunk;
The holy shrines to ruin shrunk ;
Departed is the pious monk,—
God's blessing on his soul!"
The first thing to be noticed regarding our Abbey is its name. We
call it Crossraguel, but the spelling is modern;: it is never so
spelled in ancient books.
The oldest form of the word is Crosragmol — whatever that may mean.
This is evidently the original form of the name, although how it came
to be changed into Crossraguel is not very clear.
When we come down to the Reformation times, we find it spelled
Cros-raguell. This is the way Abbot Quintin Kennedy spelled it, who
debated with John Knox; and it is evidently from Abbot Quintin's
spelling that we have got ours, for we have merely added an s, and cut
off an 1, and then Cros-raguell is changed into Crossraguel.
The meaning of Crossraguel again is quite as misty as the spelling
of it. Some say it means cross regal or the royal cross, but that is
merely guess-work. In the first place, if raguel means regal, how did
the letter u get into it ? And then, in the second place, how does
that explain Crosragmol, which was apparently the oldest form of the
word ? Besides, I have never heard elsewhere of a royal cross. Crosses
are not usually counted royal things at all; and I am beginning now to
think that Crosragmol was the original name of the site on which the
Abbey stands, and that it gave its name to the religious house itself.
In that case we are thrown for a meaning back upon the uncertainties
of the Celtic language, which gave names to nearly all the
* Professor M'Kinnon, of Edinburgh, in reply to a query I
addressed to him thinks that Crosragmol marks the site of a cross
erected in memory of some local hero of former days, whose name has
otherwise perished. In this way, the name resem¬bles Grossmichael in
Kirkcudbright, or MacLear's Cross in lona. A second corres¬pondent
suggests that it may be Crossregulus, from the well-known St. Rule.
Of course we have still to explain how Crosragmol became
Crossraguel, but we must not lay too much stress on the spelling of a
name, for one of the puzzling things about old books is the variety of
ways in which they spell names of places. Girvan, for instance, was
spelled in at least three different ways—Girwand, Garvane,
Invergarvane; Maybole has at least as many—Maibothel, Minnibole,
Mayboill. Not long ago Ayr was spelled, Air; before that, Aire ; while
both come from the Gaelic Ar, which means clear. In old documents
Dailly is spelled Daylie, and Ailsa, Ailysay; while in Dr. Lees's book
on Paisley Abbey, there are given not fewer than eleven ways of
spelling Paisley—Paslet, Passeleth, Passelay, Passelet, Paslowe,
Passleke, Pateslo, Pasle, Paslewe, Paslay, Paisley.
Most people have heard of the man who defended his bad spelling, by
saying that anybody could spell a word always in the same way, but it
required a man of genius to vary his spelling, and strike out
something original. Perhaps old writers held a notion of the same
kind. At any rate we may learn from this custom the uncertainty which
must ever attend researches into etymology, seeing that the spelling
varies so much. Whether we should spell the name of our Abbey
Crosragmol, Crosraguell, or Crossraguel, does not matter very much.*
They all mean the same thing, I suppose; and we have Shakespere's
authority for thinking that—
A rose by any other name
Would smell as sweet.
* I have jotted down the following spellings of our Abbey from
old books :— Crosragmol, Crosragmer, Corsragall, Corsragwell,
Crosraguell, Croceraguall, Corsreguall, Crossraguel.
Turnberry Castle, a representation of which is on the .adjoining
page, is the oldest building in this district; and as the probable
birth-place of our great king, Robert the Bruce, must ever have an
interest for all Scotchmen. Little more than the foundations of the
walls are now remaining, although at one time we know there was a
village and a church in the neighbourhood. It fell into ruin shortly
after the Bruce family left this locality to rule the kingdom. A
lighthouse has recently been erected on part of its site.