Villagers pronounce the name as per the Gaelic version of Crowey when speaking among themselves, but will automatically use the Anglicised version in other company. Roy's Military Survey Map of 1747 - 55 shows it as CRAIGIE, another old word for 'rocky'.
The earliest signs of human settlement in the area date from the first millenium BC. Archaeological excavations at the site of the Roman fort on the Antonine Wall on Croy Hill in 1975 uncovered traces of a late Iron Age or early Bronze Age palisade, which had doubtlessly protected a primitive community.
The same excavations provided ample evidence of a considerably later community dating from around 140 AD, that of the garrison of Roman auxiliary soldiers and their accompanying civilian community. The excavations revealed indications of farming, pottery making, charcoal-burning ovens and of cremation rituals.
To this day there is an easily discernible stretch of the vallum or ditch running on a west-east axis from Bar Hill near Twechar, across Croy Hill (skirting the northern extremities of Croy village) and on to Castlecary. On a low hill, just west of the fortlet on Croy Hill, was discovered in earlier times, a Roman altar with carved Roman stones. For a time these remained built into the walls of an old farmhouse at Nethercroy and later in the grounds of the mansionhouse.
They have long since been removed to the safety of the National Museum in Edinburgh.
As far as is known, Christianity did not arrive in the Croy district until the spread of the evangelising influence of early saints like St Ninian (4th century), St Blane (5th century), St Mungo, St Columba and St Machan (6th century AD).
St Machan, being a local saint, is of intrinsic interest. According to tradition he was Scottish, educated in Ireland and was created a bishop while on a visit to Rome. His influence appears to have reached well beyond Campsie, to Lanarkshire, Perthshire and West Lothian. It is thought that he was buried under the altar of his ancient and long-ruined church in Campsie Glen.
In 1458, about nine hundred years after his death, he was still well enough remembered for Patrick Leche, Chancellor of St Mungo's Cathedral in Glasgow to erect an altar dedicated to him. It is situated on the north side of the nave, at the third pillar from the roodscreen. The Croy area would surely have known St Machan when his name was carried to places much further away.
The Croy locality is known to have belonged to the deanery of Lennox in ancient times. Father John Charleson (missionary rector of Holy Cross, Croy 1907-29 and an enthusiastic antiquarian) held the view that the proprietorship of 'the lands of Croy' could be traced back to a grandson of Alwyn, 2nd Earl of Lennox in the 13th century. What is more historically certain is that the powerful Comyn family held stewardship over this eastern part of the former Dunbartonshire until the death of Comyn at the hands of Robert Bruce in Dumfries High Church. Bruce granted the Comyn barony of Kirkintilloch (which included Cumbernauld and surrounding territory) to his accomplice, Sir Malcolm Fleming. The Flemings remained in possession of Cumbernauld Castle and later, of Cumbernauld House until 1875. There is a record of a Fleming living in Croy in the 17th century.
A poem written by Fr Charleson reflects the above.
A LEGEND OF CROY
Clear glowed the moon above the hill,
the bouldered hill of Croy;
The sky's bright hosts in azure depths
Sang silent songs of joy.
From Levanax and Strath O' Blane,
By Caerpentulachs towers,
And past Saint Sythe's rude cross and veil,
And Kelvin's forest bowers,
By Auchenstarry's hollow dene
And Nethercroy's dark lea
A holy bishop wends his way
Machanus named was he.
The rugged craggy steep he mounts,
Hard toiling steadily,
And thence beyond the Roman wall
A pagan fane does see.
Oh, wild,and bare,and ghostly rose
those wind-lashed stones in air,
By giant hands with magic rite
Set deep and solid there.
A temple rude of Caledon,
Of mist-clad gods of old,
While nearby looms a Rock-chair huge,
For priests of chieftains bold.
There standing at the dawn of day,
He gazed o'er Albans wood
To Cumbernauld and Auchenkill,
Where hermit's cell once stood.
Thence on the glades of Auchenbee,
And Dumbruck's windswept brae,
Across the swamp on Barbegs slope
His eye did lingering stay.
It seemed as if that buttress hill
Did strangely change and sway,
To far his view a vision burst-
A thousand years away.
A Christian altar,pillared,golden,
Enshrined in walls of wood,
And high aloft the image holy
Of Christ upon the rood.
A bell tolled deep and clear,
Loud,calling all the faithful flock ,
From hamlets far and near.
The lights shone bright upon Gods board,
The priest sang holy mass,
Christ's word smote bread to Flesh Divine,
And into Blood of God the wine,
Adoring voices rose and fell
With sounding of the sacred bell,
As hence the scene did pass.
The aged Bishop raises his hand
To bless the lands of Croy,
To bless the folk in days to come
Within the church at Croy.
And when the bell tolls Angelus
Forth from the tower of Croy,
St Machan, pray that Scotland's realm
May Christ's true faith enjoy.
The faith that Ninian taught of old
By Solways rushing tide,
Columba in the Hebrides,
And Mungo by the Clyde,
That Macher told old Aberdeen,
St Rule the Fife countrie,
That Margaret,Scotlands hallowed Queen,
Live for all zealously.
So come the day when ancient faith,
Scotsmen again may share,
And brothers be to everyman
Here,there and everywhere.
Rev. John MM Charleson