Township: Crossapol

Map Reference: Crossapol 300

Name Type: township

Meaning: The specific is ON kross (probably here in the plural form krossar) ‘free-standing cross’: 'Crossbost [Lewis]: It is not likely that [?] should be a secondary development between [s] and [b], as the medial cluster [sb] is quite common in the dialect ... The exact meaning of kross in this connection is impossible to determine. As the map shows, it cannot refer to crossroads, as it frequently does in Norway. It is more likely to denote, in its plural form, two or more crosses erected for some purpose' (Oftedal 2009, 44).
ON kross 'cross' appears frequently in place names, and may have been applied for various reasons. Such a name can indicate: (a) a wayside cross marking a praying site (e.g. at a spot where a church came into view); (b) a burial site; (c) cross-roads; (d) ground pertaining to some particular church or chapel dedicated to the Holy Cross; (e) property boundary. (Marwick 1995 (1947), 47)
Krossbolstadr is a fixed compound which is found at five locations in the Western Isles at [Corsapol], Islay [Macniven 2015, 303]; Crossbost Lewis; Crossapoll, Coll; and Crossapoll, Mull. It is absent from the place name nomenclature of Orkney, and Shetland has only two examples, one at Crossbister, Fetlar, and another on Unst. Krossbolstadr is also absent from Iceland [although there is a Krossastaðir as a farm name on SAM] and is scarce in Norway. The tradition of freestanding crosses was also a feature of Norse Christianity. In Iceland devotional crosses were erected by individuals and were an important visible sign of the new religion (officially established in 1000) brought to Iceland by Hebridean settlers. Aud the Deepminded, an early settler [circa AD 834-900, who had lived at one time in the Hebrides], 'used to say prayers at Kross Hills; she had crosses erected there, for she'd been baptised and was a devout Christian’. Such crosses were most probably carved from wood and, unlike the stone Celtic crosses, these have not survived anywhere. (Johnston 1991, 89?90)
There is no modern evidence of a religious site in the township. Cameron speculated about the Neolithic cairn site (see Ulbhag) that, 'although this is mere conjecture, there may have been a votary cross erected here from which Crossapol derived its name' (MacDougall 1937, 86). A cross could also be a mark for boats (Berit Sandnes, pers. comm.). There are no obvious crossroads here.
Gammeltoft believes this to be a name in ON ból ‘farm’ (Gammeltoft 2001, 305): Krossarból.
There is a Crossapol on Coll and another on Mull; Krossby occurs seven times in Norway (NG); Krossbøl is recorded once as a farm name in OR; Krossbólið occurs twice as a settlement name in the Faroe Islands (KO); and Kross- is a very common specific among Icelandic farm names (SAM).

Other Forms: Krossbol - The map MVLA INSVLA in the Atlas of Scotland, Atlas Novus, by Joan Blaeu, 1654. These maps were largely based on work by Timothy Pont who mapped Scotland between 1583 and 1596. NLS, 123.

Crossapol - Tiree Rental 1747.

Crossapol - The Turnbull Map of Tiree 1768 and accompanying survey text.

Crossapol - Typed List of Inhabitants of Tyree and their Age in September 1779.
Taken from an unknown publication, 1998.201.1

Related Places:

Information:Extracts from 'The Gaelic Otherworld' by John Gregorson Campbell, Edited with commentary by Ronald Black, (Edinburgh; Birlinn, 2005):

Davie, a south country ploughman or grieve, was brought to Tiree about the beginning of the present century by then the chamberlain or ‘baillie’ of the island. Ploughing one day on Crossapol farm, he saw before him in the furrow a very little man. Not understanding that the diminutive creature was a Fairy, Davie cried out in broken Gaelic, “What little man are you? Get out of that.”

Local Form:

Languages : Gaelic