Willie MacRae Memorial – Greenfield, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Willie MacRae Memorial

Greenfield, Scotland

The solitary cairn marks a mysterious death that's still controversial more than two decades later.  


On a very scenic part of the A87 in Scotland stands a solitary cairn overlooking Loch Loyne. The monument is dedicated to Willie MacRae, whose mysterious death is still a controversial topic.

Two Australian tourists found MacRae’s crashed car on April 6, 1985. The tourists flagged down the next passing vehicle, which happened to contain a doctor. The doctor examined MacRae’s slumped body and found he was still barely alive, though had suffered some kind of brain damage.

MacRae was transferred to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, where it was discovered he had been shot above his right ear. His condition was fatal, and his life support was switched off the next day. MacRae’s gun was found outside the car, and despite the lack of fingerprints to prove otherwise, the verdict was suicide.

But this conclusion does not sit well with a great many people, as other odd occurrences happened near the time of his death. Some of his friends had been the victims of burglaries, and one even died in a mysterious house fire. People also found it odd that in Israel, a forest of 3,000 trees was planted in MacRae’s honor. And, it’s unclear how he could have shot himself in the head and then thrown his gun outside the car window.

To understand the controversy surrounding MacRae’s death, you first need to understand his past. He had been an Officer in the British Navy and aide to Lord Mountbatten before Mountbatten was murdered by the IRA. MacRae later became a lawyer. He was fiercely opposed to storing nuclear weapons in Scotland, and became involved with the Scottish National party campaigning for independence.

Due to his previous connections, some believed MacRae unearthed something that the British government didn’t want him exposing. He had suffered several burglaries in his home, and had taken to carrying his briefcase with him at all times. On the day of his accident, he had intended to travel to his cottage in Dornie, but was delayed due to his car tires getting slashed that day. His last words to one of his friends before heading off was “I’ve got them this time.” It’s unclear what happened or what information he had, but his case was missing from his car. Though people petitioned the government to initiate a Fatal Accident Inquiry into MacRae’s death, no such action has been taken.

In 1990, a political pro-independence group called Siol nan Gaidheal erected this cairn in his memory, not far from where his crashed car was found.

Know Before You Go

If traveling north on the A87, the cairn is clearly visible on the left-hand side in front of the loch. There are no car parks around here, but there are suitable places to park up nearby.

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