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  • The Arbroath War Memorial, courtesy of Angus Heritage
    The Arbroath War Memorial, Angus
  • The Carnoustie War Memorial, courtesy of Angus Heritage
    The Carnoustie War Memorial, Angus
  • The Kitchener Memorial at dusk, Marwick Head, Orkney
    The Kitchener Memorial, Marwick Head, Orkney
  • Silhouette of the Royal Scots Greys Monunument and Edinburgh Castle at dusk, West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
    The Royal Scots Greys Monument, West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
  • The Scott Monument floodlit in red to mark Remembrance Sunday 2014
    The Scott Monument floodlit in red to mark Remembrance Sunday 2014

The First World War may not have been fought on British soil but it transformed the social, economic and cultural landscape of Scotland.

Scottish industry and agriculture became indispensable to the war effort. Hailed as the ‘workshop of the world’, the shipyards along the Clyde in Glasgow met the enormous demand for battleships, while iron foundries, steel works and engineering shops became vital sources of munitions and artillery. The massive Dornock Munitions Factory sprung up between the towns of Gretna and Annan in Dumfries & Galloway, becoming home to the largest cordite factory in the UK.

While this economic boom proved to be far from all-encompassing and ultimately short-lived, there was hardly a place in Scotland not exempt from the colossal blows inflicted by the conflict’s high casualty rate. Lowly populated places in particular, such the Isle of Lewis and Harris, sustained some of the highest proportional losses of any place in Britain.

Scotland’s collective experience of the First World War was memorialised in the form of the Scottish National War Memorial. Located at Edinburgh Castle, it officially opened in 1928 and incorporates both a memorial and museum. More than just a commemoration, it stands as a testament to the scale of the nation’s military sacrifice, its unique martial heritage, and distinct approach to remembrance.

At memorials across the country you can observe how different communities, institutions, military units and individuals have paid tribute to the fallen in their own singular way. A brand new Angus Heritage WW1 Trail will be launched on 5 September, as part of Angus Heritage Week, highlighting the main war memorials across the region, including the Arbroath War Memorial. For more information, view the World War 1 Heritage Trail leaflet and find out about this area's important contributions to the war effort.

Literature and poetry of the time also offer perspectives of the conflict through a distinctly Scottish lens. As well as the literary legacy bequeathed to Craiglockhart War Hospital by the famous English war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, Scotland can lay claim to a number of significant works penned by its own poets and writers, reflecting their personal experiences and responses to the Great War. 

Learn more about Scotland’s experience of the First World War at a diverse array of events taking place over this five-year commemorative period.