Commemorating Scotland's role in the Great War
29 October 2008
As Remembrance Day approaches, a special event at Edinburgh Castle - home to The Scottish National War Memorial - looks back at Scotland’s role in The Great War, and the enormous contribution of families and communities throughout the country during World War I.
The castle’s Great Hall is the setting on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th November, for The Great War and Scotland. From 10.30am to 4pm, this will feature a series of performances by costumed historic re-enactors. They will highlight aspects of what life was like for services personnel involved in the conflict of 1914-18, as well as those left to ‘keep the home fires burning’.
In addition, on both days, experts from Historic Scotland will be on hand to help visitors trace records of their own family’s involvement in the Great War by carrying out searches of archive materials and medal rolls.
Sheena Garden of Historic Scotland’s Interpretation Unit says: “We’ll be representing all aspects of the forces so we’ll be trying to able to help families to trace connections, not just with the army, but with other services such as the Navy and The Royal Flying Corps. Perhaps we’ll have an opportunity to, for example, enable a grandson to find details of a bravery award to his father’s father.”
“We hope that The Great War and Scotland will be fascinating for all ages, and that families who come along will also take time to visit The National War Memorial. With Armistice Day on 11th November - the anniversary of the symbolic end of World War I in 1918 - it’s a good opportunity to learn about and appreciate the debt our country owes to so many men and women from Scotland who gave their lives in conflict”.
Set in Crown Square, the Memorial is an impressive building which was erected to commemorate those who died in conflict in the Great War and now also commemorates those who died in World War II and in other conflicts since 1945.
The Great War and Scotland is a free event, included in the price of admission to Edinburgh Castle. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the castle’s website: www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- In the Middle Ages, the church of St Mary’s graced the north side of Edinburgh Castle’s Crown Square. Converted into a munitions house in 1540, it was eventually demolished in the 1750s to make room for a new barracks. When the garrison left in 1923, the opportunity was taken to adapt the building as the nation’s memorial to the dead of the 1914-18 Great War.
- The architect of the War Memorial was Sir Robert Lorimer and the building was formally opened on 14 July 1927 by the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII).
- The exterior of the Memorial is enriched with a number of sculptures symbolising Courage, Peace, Justice and Mercy. Above the entrance, a figure rising from a phoenix denotes the survival of the Spirit.
- Inside the Memorial is the Hall of Honour, or Hall of Regiments as it was first called. Here the enormous contribution of Scotland’s twelve regiments and the other corps and services are recorded. Beyond lies the Shrine and the steel casket containing a complete Roll of Honour of the Scottish dead. The figure of St Michael the Archangel soars overhead and the stained-glass windows and bronze friezes give vivid impressions of the Great War.
- A chilling detail in the Memorial is the inclusion, in one of the stained glass windows of the Shrine, of a swastika. This adorns the cloak of the horseman, Faithful and True (from Revelations) who ‘will defeat the nations and rule over them with a rod of iron’. Hardly had the mortar set in the Memorial’s walls than this ancient symbol of good fortune began appearing in the skies over Europe as the insignia of a man who also sought to ‘defeat the nations and rule over them with a rod of iron’ – Adolf Hitler.
- Edinburgh Castle is one of 345 outstanding historic properties and sites throughout the country in the care of Historic Scotland. These include some of Scotland’s leading tourism attractions and most important heritage sites. Some of the most popular, in addition to Edinburgh Castle, include Stirling, St Andrews and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places
- Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment
- Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year Of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with the other heritage organisations.