Prince Charles pays tribute to 'forgotten' north east war dead

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Prince Charles has joined tributes to a Scottish community whose loss of lives in World War One may have been greater than previously thought.

The Duke of Rothesay laid a wreath on a visit to a new memorial cairn built by the community of Cabrach in Moray.

The cairn commemorates the farming community and neighbouring parishes at Rhynie, Lumsden and Dufftown.

The Imperial War Museum suggests that, between battle and disease, the number of war dead could be several hundred.

Along with those officially acknowledged "lost in battle" are the many who died from disease in France and Belgium. It is thought that coming from such a remote rural area, they had little resistance.

Minute's silence

A recent BBC TV programme, examining the effects of World War One on rural Scotland, quoted an eminent Dutch historian speaking on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, who referred to the ruined crofts and farm buildings of the Cabrach as representing "perhaps the biggest War Memorial in Europe".

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Charles, wearing a Gordon Highlanders kilt, took part in a short service with local residents, followed by a minute's silence.

He then laid a wreath which said: "In special memory of those from the Cabrach, and the parishes of Rhynie, Lumsden and Dufftown who lost their lives during the First World War."

Young and old

The prince chatted to locals, including Royal Observer Corps veteran John Gordon, 88, who laid a wreath on behalf of the community. His family has farmed in the Cabrach area for more than 300 years.

The memorial project was led by Marc Ellington, a leading authority on Scottish cultural heritage, who said: "Each and every aspect of the construction of the cairn has involved members, both young and old, of the Cabrach Community working closely with master craftsman Euan Thompson, a specialist in traditional dry stone construction.

"As well as being one of the finest memorial cairns to be built in Scotland in recent years, this is an outstanding example of what a local community, working together with energy and determination, can achieve."