Thousands attend WW1 Drumhead commemoration

The Drumhead service in Edinburgh Image copyright PA
Image caption The event heralded the start of the Scottish commemorations programme

Thousands of people have taken part in Scotland's "Drumhead Service" at Edinburgh Castle, commemorating the centenary of World War One.

The service, featuring an altar of drums, replicated those held by frontline servicemen 100 years ago.

Military bands and about 100 marching veterans led a procession down the Royal Mile to a replica Commonwealth war graves cemetery in Holyrood Park.

Headstones represent 1,000 names listed at the Scottish National War Memorial.

The event was attended by politicians including First Minister Alex Salmond and Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, civic and religious leaders and military representatives.

The congregation followed the procession to Holyrood Park, where people were invited to leave poppies, wreaths or markers.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The altar of drums replicated services held by frontline servicemen 100 years ago

The service heralded the start of the Scottish commemorations programme.

Eight significant points in the conflict have been selected including the battles of Jutland and Gallipoli, as well as domestic incidents such as the Quintinshill rail disaster and the loss of HMY Iolaire.

The traditional service at the castle esplanade was conducted by senior chaplains from the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.

Image copyright PA
Image caption First Minister Alex Salmond laid a wreath at a memorial in Holyrood Park, after the service

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend John Chalmers, said it was a chance for today's Scots to remember those who fell in the Great War and to ask what can be learned.

He said: "My prayer is that over the next few years, acts of commemoration will result in the more active pursuit of peace.

"It is not enough to remember the past, we must learn from it."

Image caption The procession down the Royal Maile was led by the Royal Marines band

First minister Alex Salmond, who laid a wreath at the temporary memorial at Holyrood Park, said: "Today's events were a fitting commemoration of the appalling loss of life in the conflict which began a century ago.

"Over the next five years we will ask the people of Scotland to join us in remembering a further seven events from the First World War that had a particularly significant impact on Scotland.

Brigadier David Allfrey, chief organiser of the event, said: "The multi-faith service on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle represents the moment before deployment; the procession down the Royal Mile will symbolise a 'March as to War' and the gathering in Holyrood Park, the approach to the front and assembly for military action.

"The memorial of over 1,000 headstones will provide a vital sense of scale and a focus for acts of individual and collective commemoration."

Image caption The Stone of Remembrance was saluted by the military bands taking part in the procession

It is believed the service, procession and memorial was the first commemoration event of its scale to have ever been held in Scotland, with 5,000 people attending the service at the castle and thousands more watching the procession to Holyrood Park.

Tickets for the event were distributed to each of Scotland's 32 councils to ensure representation from across the whole country. The service was also broadcast on a large screen at the base of Arthur's Seat.

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