On 4 August, the day following the Closing Ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow hosted the United Kingdom's First World War Centenary service for leaders of the Commonwealth. The service took place at Glasgow Cathedral and was followed by a wreath laying service at the city’s Cenotaph.
Scotland began its five-year commemoration on 10 August with a Drumhead Service – an improvised church service held on the front line during combat – at Edinburgh Castle with neatly piled drums draped in flags used in place of a religious altar. Following the service, military bands paraded down the Royal Mile to a replica Commonwealth graveyard at Holyrood Park where more than 100 headstones have been erected to represent the names recorded in the Rolls of Honour at the Scottish National War Memorial.
As well as the outbreak of war and Armistice Day, the commemoration will also observe the anniversaries of battles including Gallipoli, Loos, Jutland and Arras which have particular significance for Scotland, and other key dates including domestic tragedies such as the sinking of the HMS Iolaire and the Quintinshill rail disaster.
Learn more about the Scottish experience of the First World War at three landmark exhibitions staged in Edinburgh over the commemorative period. This first of these is Next of Kin which was unveiled at the National War Museum in April and will stay there until March 2015 before embarking on a national tour.
This was followed by Common Cause: Commonwealth Scots and the Great War from 11 July – 12 October 2014 at the National Museum of Scotland which explored the impact of the conflict upon the Scottish diaspora.
The National War Museum will host the last in this series of commemorative exhibitions to mark the centenary of the end of the war in 2018. Entitled Poppies, it will reveal the remarkable story of how Canadian Scot John MacRae’s 1915 poem In Flanders Field led to this delicate crimson wildflower becoming a world-wide symbol of remembrance.
Alongside these official observance dates and major exhibitions, communities, attractions, festivals and organisations across the country will be holding their own special commemorative events, each offering their own unique perspective and memories of the Great War.
Take a look at the event listings below and find out what’s happening in your area.