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Pupils visit Killean Crypt
Rhunahaorine Primary School’s children were privileged to be admitted into the Macdonald’s of Largie’s family crypt at Killean.
The outing to the mausoleum, above which the words ‘Here rest the bones of the House of Largie’ are inscribed, was funded by the West Kintyre Windfarm Trust, and was part of the school’s Old Largie Project.
The children said they found it ‘a bit creepy’ and they were glad of the light streaming in to the usually locked from the small window slits.
On returning to school children wrote reports on their visit and quotes are taken from their writing.
Craig Hurd wrote: ‘Ranald Bane MacDonald is a famous man. In Kintyre he had a castle and he was in a crypt, the oldest in the whole of Kintyre. It was locked for years and years and years and Rhunahaorine were allowed in the crypt and saw the amazing slab stone of Ranald Bane MacDonald.’
Lewis O’Hanlon wrote of the stone: ‘It was on the floor and we had to be very careful because we didn’t want to step on his slab.’
Armed with torches and mobile phone beams the pupils studied the standing stones. Celtic patterns, animals and even a ship were easily recognisable.
Children pointed out carvings of two dogs which were chasing a rabbit, and they were informed they are among the best preserved standing stones in Scotland – if not the best.
On returning to school Louise Hurd wrote in her report: ‘Inside the crypt there were loads of slabs. They had such good patterns on them. There were over lapping and big swords. Some were on the floor and some were on the wall.’
One of the finest stone slabs was that of Ranald Bane MacDonald which lay flat on the ground at the crypt entrance. It portrayed a medieval soldier with shield and claymore.
Children made sketches from the stones with several of them selecting Ranald Bane’s and that of his sister which lay beside him.
Returning to the light of the graveyard, Marilyn Shedden told the children the story of the Killean kirk minister who felt he had been given a message by God to preach his morning sermon in the open.
Before the end of the service the church roof collapsed in what would have been a tragedy but all the congregation, being outside, were unharmed.
Time was on hand for children to respectfully look around the graveyard. Fancy writing was tricky but many stones were legible giving them snapshots into past lives.
Several children were proud to find their own family graves writing down inscriptions or having a photograph to share later.
On returning to school, Lewis wrote in his report: ‘We saw a lot of graves… one had a pirate ship, and one had a skull and bones on it.’
Fabian Kimak reported that the grave of ‘Ranald Bane Macdonald looked pretty scary’.