This year marks a century since the outbreak of World War One, and 91 years since the unveiling of Stonehaven’s War Memorial.
Designed and built under the supervision of Stonehaven architect Mr John Ellis, the octagonal structure comprising Doric pillars crowned with a ruined frieze and cornice, set on a base of rough stone, was dedicated on Sunday, May 20, 1923.
It commemorated service personnel who fell in World War One just a few years earlier.
In the centre of the octagon rests the huge Remembrance Stone – a granite block weighing 10-and-a-half tons, on which the names of the fallen are inscribed in raised, leaden letters. Names of the outstanding battles of the Great War are boldly inscribed on the outside of the lintels - Mons, Jutland, Gallipoli, Zeebruge, Marne, Somme, Vimy and Ypres.
To mark the occasion, we asked Stonehaven’s elected councillors to tell us how significant the imposing monument is to the people of the town.
Councillor Graeme Clark:
“Stonehaven’s iconic war memorial stands on the Black Hill overlooking the town where tradition has it that locals had gathered in times of threat.
‘‘The building was designed to mirror the unfinished lives of the fallen. Stonehaven itself lost 200 men in the Great War – a huge sacrifice for the town.
‘‘The townsfolk raised the money for their memorial within a year and are proud of the men who laid down their lives and others who died in subsequent wars and conflicts.
“It is a fitting building for a proud town which will never forget the sacrifice of the men of the Mearns.”
Councillor Wendy Agnew:
“The war memorial is a solemn reminder of all the lives lost in the Great War and subsequent Second World War. I give all credit to the people who chose the site and the architect, John Ellis, who designed our impressive memorial as it can be seen for miles over land and sea.
‘‘Many people visit it and tell me that it is a most impressive and iconic reminder of lives cut short. I remember my mother and I as a young girl walking up to the memorial in November to place a weighted poppy below my uncle’s name - an uncle I was never to know - who served in the Fleet Air Arm in the Second World War.
“In looking at the memorial it is important to understand and remember that it was designed to appear unfinished - as unfinished as the lives of those it commemorates. In my view this unique design should never be altered, just as the lives of those it commemorates cannot be changed.”
Councillor Peter Bellarby:
“The war memorial sitting above Stonehaven is an ever-present reminder of the sacrifices made by our armed forces in the defence of our freedom and liberty.
‘‘The people of Stonehaven have shown by erecting this memorial that they salute those that gave their lives that we might live in peace. They have shown that they wish a memory of the sacrifices made to continue through the ages.
“The large numbers that turn out for the annual remembrance service in Stonehaven or line the streets as the parade passes show that the people still remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice. We remember, too, the families and loved ones left behind, as they faced life without the once familiar face.
“The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War serves to remind us all of the horrors of war.
‘‘This was a war of huge and tragic losses, where whole streets of families were left without a father and without a breadwinner. There should not be wars but sadly, even today, there are conflicts and aggression.
‘‘Sadly, there is still a need for our armed forces.
‘‘Sadly, even today we lose brave comrades.
‘‘We salute them, and in so doing strengthen our resolve to solve disputes amicably and avoid where possible the horror of war.
“The war memorial means a lot to the people of Stonehaven and surrounding districts. We will continue to remember those commemorated there.”
Councillor Raymond Christie:
“As we approach the 100th anniversary of the First World War -there is an important event here in Stonehaven on May 20.
“On that day, 91 years ago, our own war memorial was unveiled. This is an iconic landmark for townspeople and visitors alike as demonstrated on Armistice Sunday every year.
‘‘We have a very strong support from the Royal British Legion, church, community, youth and many other organisations on that particular day.
“I have no doubt, throughout the year, everyone will continue to enjoy the beautiful view and respect the sacrifice made by our Armed Forces.”