Places to Visit
- Crossraguel Abbey, Ayrshire
Although the abbeys in the Scottish Borders attract a lot of attention and visitors, the ruins of this Ayrshire abbey have a lot to offer visitors as it is extensive and many parts are well preserved. It is also handy for Culzean Castle and Country Park> which is only a few miles away.
The name of this abbey may be from "Cross of Riaghail" (from St Regulus) and there may have been an early Christian prayer cross on the site. The lands were granted to the priory of Paisley very early in the 13th century, on condition that a monastery was built there. The abbey's endowments increased over the next 200 years and in 1404 it received confirmation of its possessions in a charter from King Robert III>.
The Abbey was established under Cluniac principles which emphasised offering to God the very best - and that included places of worship. The building became larger and more ornately carved and a large abbot's house and houses for the monks were added. The picture here shows the "sedilia" or seating for senior monks in the 15th century choir of the abbey.
By the end of the 15th century the king had taken the right to appoint the abbots in the monasteries and in many cases the appointees saw it as an opportunity to obtain a good source of income. The local Kennedy> family thus became involved as abbots in the 16th century, although their abilities as statesmen and scholars also enhanced the abbey's reputation. A tower house and gatehouse were built at this time.
The Reformation and the rejection of mass and the pope's authority in 1560 led to the destruction of many abbeys but Crossraguel was relatively untouched. But the local Earl of Cassilis tried to take over the abbey - by roasting the abbot over a fire until he agreed to sign over the lands and revenue. The monastic life of the abbey ceased before the end of the 16th century.
Visitors can wander around the 15th century choir building, with its ornate carvings, the tower house and gatehouse (with its distinctive appendage seen in the illustration here). There are stairs to the top of the gatehouse which offers a splendid bird's eye view of the abbey and the countryside around.
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