The Great War

E. W. McFarland

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199563692
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

The Great War


The themes of tragedy and futility have come to dominate the popular memory of the Great War. In Scotland, its legacy is overlaid with a sense of inordinate sacrifice: a small nation, with a historic martial tradition, drawn into a global conflict of unprecedented destructive power. The emotional hold of this portrayal remains so powerful that the historian often struggles to confront the gap between memory and actual experience. It was economic and demographic patterns rooted in Scotland's historic engagement with the international economy prior to 1914 that maximized the national contribution to Britain's war effort. While the war may have strengthened the ‘diffuse Christianity’ of citizen soldiers, the situation for institutional religion on the home front was rather more complex. Distinctive issues of national identity mediated Scottish engagement with the conflict. It is perhaps in the area of commemoration and remembrance that the limitations of the traditional class-based template for understanding the Scottish Great War experience appear most exposed.

Keywords: Scotland; Great War; Britain; religion; national identity; commemoration; remembrance

Article.  8227 words. 

Subjects: History ; Military History

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