Shrouds Laid On Burial Ground In First World War Commemoration

'Shrouds of the Somme' is one of the most striking projects which will mark the centenary of the end of the first World War.

More than 1,500 shrouded figures have been laid out in Salisbury Cathedral's burial ground to mark the centenary year of the end of the First World War.

This is part of a project which aims to recognise the troops who died during Britain’s bloodiest battle without a known grave.

Artist Rob Heard is hand-carving a total of 72,396 figurines, each one linked to a fatality at the Somme, using records from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 

Each of the 1,561 shrouds now laying in Salisbury represents one day of the war.

Soldiers from the 5 Rifles Battalion laid out each one of them in the sacred garth at the heart of the cathedral's cloisters.

'Shrouds of the Somme' was installed at the cathedral on Thursday and will be available to view there until Sunday, with further exhibitions in Exeter and Belfast to follow.

The project is touring the UK and will serve as a focal point for national remembrance for Armistice in November, when 72,396 shrouded figures will be laid out at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Rob Heard explained the philosophy behind his work:

“The key to this is the association with the name - I work through the lists of names, and as I create a figure, I cross one off. Everyone that died, we’re representing.

“I have a few injuries, so this can be a pretty painful process for me but when you’re in the company of these men, it’s very difficult to say ‘I’m getting tired, my hands hurt’.

“There’s nothing more humbling than being around these men”.  

Forces News spoke to him before he started touring the country:

Organisers thanked those involved in the project, including SSAFA and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at the Honourable Artillery Company in London. 

Jake Moores, Shrouds of the Somme’s Chairman, said at the time:

“The enormity of the numbers is what really hits people - these bodies really bring it home.

“We want as many people to see this art installation as possible, to understand the sacrifice that these men made on our behalf, that we may live in peace today”.

Shrouds of the Somme