Special events for Armistice Day

Orkney will be one of thirty locations to be part of a nationwide act of remembrance on Armistice Day next month.

Scapa beach will host the ‘Pages of the Sea’ project on November 11th, which will see large-scale portraits of WWI casualties drawn in the sand of beaches in communities across the UK and Ireland.

Scapa beach will host 'Pages of the Sea' in Orkney
Scapa beach will host 'Pages of the Sea' in Orkney

It’s all part of film director Danny Boyle’s Armistice Day commission for 14-18 NOW and the National Theatre of Scotland. The event will encourage members of the public to gather on the beaches taking part to remember those who died during WWI.

Six beaches in Scotland will be taking part, including stretches of sand in Shetland, Fife, Ayrshire and the Outer Hebrides.

Orkney played a vital role in both WWI and WWII, with the great natural harbour of Scapa Flow serving as the home of the Royal Navy during both conflicts. Thousands of servicemen and women were stationed in the islands during the wars, and evidence of Orkney’s wartime heritage remains at places like Ness Battery, the Churchill Barriers, the Italian Chapel and the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre & Museum, which is currently being refurbished.

Orkney's Italian Chapel - image by Kenny Lam/Visit Scotland
Orkney's Italian Chapel - image by Kenny Lam/Visit Scotland

‘Pages of the Sea’ will focus on the drawing of the portrait of a First World War casualty with a connection to Orkney. It will be designed by sand artists ‘Sand In Your Eye’ and will be washed away as the tide comes in. It will signify both the departure of the soldier from the islands and, as the tide washes their image away, the loss of their life and millions of others.

The 'Pages of the Sea' project will see portraits drawn into the sand of peaches across the country
The 'Pages of the Sea' project will see portraits drawn into the sand of peaches across the country

Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy will write a new poem to be read by those gathered on the beaches across the country, and local communities will be invited to take part in workshops to find out more about local folk who were caught up in WWI. Workshop facilitators will share stories of local heroes who fell or returned; worked the land or tended to the sick during The Great War. Those taking part will also be introduced to ways in which they can make their mark on the beach on the day.

Information on online tools to help individuals ‘say goodbye’ and research and add their own local WW1 heros to a national database will also be provided.

The Orkney workshop will be held on October 30th in Kirkwall Town Hall between 7pm and 8.30pm – anyone interested in attending should register first.

Find out more about the event via the official website, or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Orkney will also host a number of other events to mark the centenary of the ending of the First World War on November 11th.

  • At 6am on Remembrance Sunday, a lone piper at St Magnus Cathedral will join 1000 individual pipers worldwide to mark the day’s commemorations with the traditional Scottish lament ‘Battle’s O’er’.
  • The traditional Remembrance Sunday parade will commence at 10.30am from the Royal British Legion in Kirkwall.
  • There will be a short service at the Kirkwall & St Ola War Memorial on the Kirk Green before a two-minute silence at 11am. A special Armistice Service will then be held in St Magnus Cathedral.
  • At 3pm there will be a concert with young musicians and the Orkney Rocks! Choir to remember those lost, and the impact the war had on those left behind. The event at the Orkney Theatre is free and tickets will be available from October 29th at the Council’s Customer Service points at School Place in Kirkwall and the Warehouse Buildings in Stromness.
  • A lone bugler at St Magnus Cathedral will join 1000 others worldwide at 18.55pm, sounding the ‘Last Post’. This will be followed by the lighting of a beacon on the Kirk Green at 7pm as part of the national ‘Beacons of Light’ event, symbolising an end of the darkness of war and return to the light of peace.
  • Between 5pm and 8pm a short film, specially commissioned by the Kirkwall Townscape Heritage Initiative for the centenary of the armistice, will be projected on to the cathedral for the last time.
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