Through Ayrshire ...

Having said goodbye to the MacDonalds and the Davies, we left Argyll for Galloway.  On the way through Ayrshire, we happened upon a few things that caught the eye.

Crossraguel Abbey - the Gatehouse

Gatehouse Crossraguel Abbey

Chapter House

The Cloister

Tower House/Apartments

John and I in the "Eye"

An abbey is a monastery governed by an abbot of the Roman Catholic Church.  Crossraguel was built in 1244 and is the most complete medieval monastery in all of Scotland.  It includes a gatehouse, a kirk or church to the far left of the cloister, an inner court surrounding a once-covered well, a kitchen and dining hall to the far right, a treasury up the stairway in the facing wall, a chapter house for the friars through the doorway, and a tower house for the abbot in the upper right corner.   In the last photo, the tower, looking darker, is seen from another angle.  Beside it  are apartments that housed retired abbots and patrons no longer able to live independently.  In the early 1300s, Crossraguel Abbey was badly damaged by the English because of its loyalty to Robert the Bruce.  It was rebuilt but eventually fell into ruin.  The origin and meaning of its name remain uncertain.  From Crossraguel, we continued south through Ayrshire.  In less than an hour's time, we came upon the timeless ...



Ailsa Craig
- This volcanic rock island rises abruptly from the sea in the Firth of Clyde, off the coast of Ayrshire.  It measures 3,900 feet long, 2,600 wide, and 1,114 feet high.  It inspired the poet John Keats to write in 1818:


Hearken, thou craggy ocean-pyramid! ...
how long is't since the Mighty Power bid
thee heave to airy sleep from fathom dreams?
Sleep in the lap of thunder, or sunbeams,
or when grey clouds are thy cold coverlid?
Thou answer'st not, for thou art dead asleep!"

Pleasure trips to the Craig are available for sailing around the island, going ashore to visit its lighthouse and ruined castle, or seeing its gannets and puffins.  We merely drove by, took a few photos, and continued on through the countryside.  We were on a quest and went from Ayrshire ...

... to Galloway   


District Welcome Sign

The Bonnie Hills

In Search of Linn's Tomb 


Sign for Derry Farm


Derry Farm Ruin

Loch Derry


A land of both beauty and starkness, Galloway is also, like most of Scotland, a land of both tragedy and triumph.  Seeking a 300-year-old tomb, we drove a narrow, unpaved section of the Southern Upland Way and hiked up the rocky, sometimes boggy moor of Craigmoddie Fell.  We looked for the stone wall enclosure that Ranger Mearns had said surrounds the grave.  Arriving at the first structure that caught our eye, we discovered it was an old, stone sheep pen.  Had it belonged to the man whose grave we sought?  We headed back down a bit and looked up in a slightly different direction.  There was something else.  We walked toward it, hoping it was the object of our quest.


A Sheep Pen

There ...


The Tomb


Original Stone 

In the spring of 1685, a simple shepherd from Derry Farm named Alexander Linn was tending his sheep on the moor.  He was reading a pocket Bible, and  it was the peak of the Killing Time.   Lieutenant-General  William  Drummond,  whose  brutal, relentless pursuit of Covenanters had earned him the name "Herod" Drummond, was leading

his men across southern Ayrshire.  As they approached Galloway, a number of lapwings flying in the distance suggested that some danger was threatening their  nests.


Suspecting the cause of the birds' distress was human, Drummond led his men across the border.  Approaching the fell, they saw Linn and circled around to take him by surprise. When they found him reading a Bible, Drummond decided that was cause enough to condemn him.  At that point in history, you see, lay persons were forbidden to own Bibles and were directed instead to obtain instruction in the scriptures directly from priests.  A Scottish shepherd in possession of a pocket Bible surely must have been a Presbyterian.  And so, Alexander Linn was ambushed, shot, and killed for his faith.


When his lifeless body was later found, he was buried on the spot where he had died and a memorial stone was erected.  The place was later described by Rev. William Mackenzie as "a bleak, romantic spot".  Over the succeeding 300 years, at least five memorial services were held at Linn's tomb, the stone enclosure was built, and two additional, commemorative stones were added.


On that spring day in 1685, what words of God were last on the heart and mind of Alexander Linn? What promises of the Lord ushered him into his heavenly home as he left his earthly abode?  On the hills surrounding his tomb, sheep still graze.


 Sheep Still Graze


From the martyr's tomb, we traveled east and drove along "the silv'ry winding Cree".

The Winding Cree and Stravaiger's Rest


The Cree flows south from Ayrshire into Galloway and on to Wigtown Bay.  It takes many turns and has many looks, all of them beautiful.  A stravaiger is a wanderer but can be either one who roams without purpose or direction, or one who travels purposefully but unhindered through a wide area.  This modern stone, set by the river in Galloway, is dedicated to travelers past and present, wishing well to all who pass, whether attending to mundane affairs or pursuing great adventures.  We took the greeting to heart and continued our own little adventure, stopping next in Creetown.

Kirkmabreck Parish Church




Creetown's 1834 church was the third building for the parish.  The first, erected in 1645, now stands in ruins high on a hill near Fell Quarry.  As we took our picture, the custodian arrived and kindly invited us in.  We admired the long wood panel, which once constituted the back of a family pew, and were told it had been taken from the old church building and brought to the new. Some of the panel's insets bear various coats of arms.  The admonition carved on one ~ Fear God and Honowr the King ~ had guided the early Presbyterians to honor those in authority while preserving the right of Christ, and not the king, to govern the Church.  The last Scottish National Covenant was signed in 1684.

Thanking our gracious host, we continued on our journey, traveling southeast along the bay into which the River Cree empties.  The one misfortune of our adventure was that we seemed to arrive at such places always when the tides were out.


The Bay of Wigtown

In 1685, an elderly Margaret McLachlan and teenaged Margaret Wilson refused to renounce their faith and were tied to stakes in Wigtown Bay to drown in the incoming tide.  Though jeered and taunted, they held fast to their faith to the end.

           Threave Castle

On the way to our next bed and breakfast, we saw a sign for a castle that was not on our list.  We stopped to inquire and learned that it sits on an island in the River Dee with a ferry crossing for tours.


Alas! we had arrived just as the ferry was retiring for the day.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed a quiet walk from the car through pastoral fields and lovely woods to the banks of the River Dee.


The island on which Threave Castle sits was the site of an older stronghold dating as early as the eleventh century, when Fergus, Lord of Galloway, ruled here.  That fortress is believed to have been destroyed in 1308 by Edward, brother of Robert Bruce, after he defeated the Gallovidians on the banks of the Dee.  In the 1370s, Archibald, 3rd Earl of Douglas and Lord of Galloway, built Threave Castle to secure his hold on the region and defend against incursions by the English, who ever persisted in their attempts to seize Scotland.  The castle once was considerably larger than this remaining tower house suggests and at the time was  surrounded by a small village.


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Copyright 2018 · Loretta Lynn Layman · The House of Lynn