Donald Campbell's Memorial Cairn

From Moriston Matters, Issue 30, December 1982.

Donald Campbell's Memorial
On a gentle bend on the A87, one and half miles east of Shiel Bridge, stands an inscribed cairn about 5 foot high surmounted by a stone cross 1 foot 6 ins in height. The cairn is in the traditional bee-hive shape of the typical Scottish cairn and is built of rough local stone. On the side facing the road is fixed a heart-shaped stone tablet which contains the following inscription:


The cairn which was designed and built by a Mr John Grant of Shiel Bridge was erected towards the end of 1927 by his fellow members of the Glenshiel Shinty team as a mark of respect to a comrade who died so tragically young. In the presence of a large number of spectators, the cairn was unveiled by his father Mr Colin Campbell, Shiel House.

Donald Campbell was born In 1895 in Glenshiel, the second son of Colin Campbell, Shiel House, a much respected County Councillor and widely acknowledged expert on Highland Ponies. As he grew to manhood by the shores of Loch Duich, Donald Campbell developed a deep love of his Kintail homeland and there, too, in common with all other youngsters of his age, then as now, he learned his shinty and first played for his local team, one of the three parish teams of that part of Wester Ross, the parishes of Glenshiel, Kintail and Lochalsh. These have since merged to form Kinlochshiel who presently play in the premier division of north shinty.

During the first World War Donald Campbell served with the Lovat Scouts and with them was posted overseas, serving in Egypt and Palestine where he contracted malaria from which he was never to free himself completely. For almost 10 years he was to suffer recurring bouts of malaria which progressively weakened this once robust Highlander and was the eventual cause of his untimely death at the early age of 31 years.

On his return to civilian life Donald worked for a time as inn keeper at Cluanie Hotel, half way between Invermoriston and his beloved Shiel Bridge, before he took up the task of driving the mail-bus from Glen Shiel to Kyle of Lochalsh.

He continued to play shinty for Glenshiel but not as regularly as he would have wished for his ill-health and heavy business commitments ruled him out as a regular in the team.

His two younger brothers did, however, play regularly and well for many years. He compensated for his lack of physical involvement in the game by acting as secretary/treasurer for a number of years; an undertaking which he carried out diligently throughout the twenties and which he still held when he died.

On the day of his funeral, he was carried by his former team-mates the mile and a half from his home at Shiel Lodge where he died, to the spot where the cairn now stands at which point his remains were put aboard the hearse which was to bear him to the village of Beauly where his ancestors came from.

There, a short service was held, and in keeping with an old Highland tradition, an impromptu cairn war set up. The remains then left, followed by the family, on the long overland journey to the church of St Mary’s, Beauly, where he was buried, beneath the granite cross erected by his parents to commemorate his elder brother, John, like Donald a victim of the Great War, who died at the Somme in January 1917.

Not long after his death it was decided in Glenshiel that Donald Campbell should have some sort of permanent memorial in the Glen he loved and served so well. A fund-raising campaign was set in motion and it was decided that the spot on the shore of tiny Loch Shiel to which his team-mates had carried him would be the most appropriate place for such a gesture of fellowship and affection.

Permission for this was readily granted by Lady Baillie of Dochfour and the cairn quickly erected. It is presently maintained by the Campbell family of Glenshiel.