WW1 Poets Honoured With Violins Made From Military Hospital Tree

A violin maker has crafted three violins from a tree in the grounds of a shell-shock treatment hospital, in honour of three renowned First...

A violin maker has crafted three violins from a tree in the grounds of a former shell-shock treatment hospital in honour of three renowned First World War poets.

Steve Burnett used a branch from a sycamore tree at Craiglockhart military war hospital, where Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon were treated, to make the instruments.

He also recently completed a violin in honour of poet Robert Graves, who met with Owen and Sassoon in Edinburgh.

The three violins were played together for the first time on Friday evening at Baberton Golf Club in Edinburgh as a plaque was unveiled to mark 100 years since the three poets met there.

Mr Burnett hopes the instruments will serve as envoys for peace and reconciliation. He said:

"I hope that as time goes on the voices of these violins through the messages of these poets will be a beacon of hope."

"The violins will be there to spread the word of hope and peace and harmony."

Mr Burnett has long admired Wilfred Owen and made the first violin in 2014 to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

He has collaborated with Edinburgh-based Scottish violinist/composer Thoren Ferguson, who has played the Wilfred Owen violin to thousands of people around the country, both in First World War commemoration events and on national radio.

Siegfried Sassoon was sent to Craiglockhart Hospital, now Napier University, in 1917,

Owen was also being treated there and introduced himself to Sassoon around August 20 1917.

In April this year research by Aberdeen University lecturer Neil McLennan revealed that Owen and Sassoon met with fellow poet Robert Graves at Baberton Golf Club in October 1917.

When he heard about this, Mr Burnett decided to make a third instrument, the Robert Graves violin, to mark 100 years since that meeting.

He said:

"It was probably one of the most important meetings of 20th-century literature so I set about making a third and final violin from the tree."

He added:

"The violins are there to keep alive the memory of the sacrifices made by that generation."

PICTURES: Jane Barlow