Recently we gathered at Forthview Primary School in Edinburgh with Miss Watson’s P7 class, their friends & families for the premiere of the animation Forthview of the Great War. As the credits rolled we were able to reflect on the project which had brought us to this point, a project which brought together Forthview Primary School, Edinburgh Castle’s Learning Officer & the Scran Education Team.
Beginning in January 2017, this project took the form of a journey through the First World War, exploring the experiences of those involved in the war, from propaganda and recruitment to remembrance. During the First World War many new recruits passed through Edinburgh Castle’s gates, experienced their first taste of military life during initial training and stood on the Castle Esplanade ready to begin their journey to the Front; sadly many never returned. The project followed the journey of these soldiers and others caught up in the First World War, reflecting on their experience.
With Scran, Historic Environment Scotland’s Learning Team provided a range of interactive and cross-curricular workshops at school and at Edinburgh Castle. Pupils learned about propaganda and the methods used to encourage people to sign up or do their bit for the war and created their own propaganda posters with artist Hannah Ayre. They followed in the footsteps of the men who came to Edinburgh Castle to sign up and experienced a taste of what initial training would have been like in an immersive workshop run by Artemis Scotland. In this workshop they also took on the role of VAD nurses, learning how to put an arm in a sling and the tiresome task of rolling bandages! They learned about the realities of trench warfare through object handling at the National War Museum and reflected on those who had lost their lives during the war; visiting the Scottish National War Memorial and exploring real objects from WWI as inspiration to write their own remembrance poetry with poet Ken Cockburn and arts educator Lorna Irvine.
As a culmination of the pupils’ learning journeys and to bring together and reflect on what they had learned from the workshops at Edinburgh Castle and at school, HES commissioned animator, Henry Cruickshank, to work with the pupils to create their animation. It was this animation that we gathered together to view for the first time on the 8th June.
Led by Henry Cruickshank, the pupils created their own characters and story. Suitable Scran imagery was carefully selected to support the pupils’ creative writing ideas and then integrated into the storytelling. The archive imagery was used as the backdrop for their characters and pupils decided which to use scene by scene. Using stop-go animation they then brought their characters to life! Heleen Schoolmeesters, an intern working with the HES learning team, also documented the whole process in the following film.
The final animation follows one character on his journey, from recruitment to training, to his experience on the battlefield. Powerful lines from the pupils’ own poetry and carefully selected words provide the soundtrack and the final scene reminds us of the families left behind and the importance of continuing to remember and reflect on those who gave their lives during the Great War.
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It is hoped this summary of our partnership project will inspire other groups to engage with their local heritage and learn about the experiences of people during World War One. If you are interested in developing such creative learning opportunities, please contact us – either the Scran Education Team or Historic Environment Scotland‘s Learning Team.
© Imagery used in the animation comes from the following archives & collections – British Red Cross, Bruce/Leslie Collection, Glasgow City Council, Herald Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Lothian Health Services Archive, National Library of Scotland, National Museums Scotland, St Andrews University Library – Licensor www.scran.ac.uk.