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The First World War is underway and you are here at Edinburgh Castle to join the Army and to follow in the footsteps of other recruits.

Stand on the esplanade - what do you think you will find inside the Castle gates? Write or draw your thoughts and feelings. 

March to the National War Museum

This is Hospital Square. Here you will find the military hospital building. Go into the Museum to Gallery 5 - 'In Defence'. Nurses looked after injured soldiers.

> Find the nurse's uniform and take a picture of it or draw it.

> Look at the nurse's autograph book - it contains artwork, notes, autographs and poems from wounded servicemen. Write down or talk about why you think the nurse made and kept this book.

> Looking at other evidence nearby, write down or talk about what life would have been like for those working in wartime hospitals.

March up the hill to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum

This is where you'll stay while you complete your training. You may have to spend your first night with just a blanket, concrete floor and your kitbag as a pillow before being assigned your bed here!

> Go to Room 3 and find the trench periscope in the display case or objects from the First World War.

What was a periscope used for? Write down or discuss your thoughts with a talk partner.

The periscope looks like it has been made from something you might find in your kitchen. What is it?

Music in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum

In the same case of objects from the First World War, there is a musical instrument called a bugle. As a recruit you might learn to play this.

What was it used for? Write down your ideas or discuss with a talk partner.

"It was grey and gloomy when the prisoners passed within the grey walls of the fortress... A thick fog enveloped the city, and Princes Street Gardens... were enshrouded in mist. On their way to the castle the prisoners passed along the side of the Esplanade, where there was a portion of Kitchener's Army in training."

A description from an army recruit

March on to the Prisons of War

As an army recruit you are sharing the castle with prisoners of war, who are housed in this building. 

> Go inside and find out more by reading the timeline.

Who are the prisoners you might meet? Write down your ideas or discuss with a talk partner.

More prisoners will be arriving tonight. Describe them arriving in a few sentences. 

March round the corner to The Royal Scots Museum and Museum of The Royal Regiment of Scotland

This is the Drill Hall, where new recruits are put through their paces. Once you've finished your training, you'll be sent to the front line. 

> Go to the Royal Scots display in The Great War gallery and find the gold tin sent to soldiers.

How would you feel receiving this gift? Write down your thoughts or discuss with a talk partner.

> Look at the display to explore what happened to some Royal Scots soldiers during the war, including a train accident in 1915. Describe one example in writing or discuss with a talk partner.

In the same building, find the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Think about today’s soldiers and how their experiences compare to those of a First World War soldier.

> Look for the display which remembers a soldier killed in action.
What is the soldier’s name?

Do you think the way we remember fallen soldiers has changed since the First World War? Write down your thoughts or discuss with your talk partner.

Take time to reflect - and go quietly into the Scottish National War Memorial

This was built to honour those who died during the First World War. Today it remembers all of those who died in later conflicts.

As well as soldiers, there were many others who were vital to the war effort who are remembered in the windows and carvings of the Memorial. Look for an animal, a nurse, a soldier, and another design that interests you.

Which other design did you choose and why did it interest you? Write down your thoughts or share them with a talk partner.

Think of three words to describe what it was like to be a recruit at Edinburgh Castle.

Sketch your own artistic memorial, inspired by these words and your journey through the castle.

This resource has been created in partnership with National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh Castle and the Regimental Museums Learning Hub.

The illustrations were created by Dawson Creative.

Useful resources

Web links correct as of November 2021.

Edinburgh Castle has a dedicated website, with information about the different areas of the castle, virtual tours and access information.

SCRAN has a wide selection of archives connected to First World War covering a range of topics, from animals to the home front. 
Forthview Primary School created animations inspired by their First World War studies. Read about the project in the Scranalogue Blog and view the animations.
You can also find Scranalogue blog posts about Armistice and the Scottish National War Memorial, as well as the Scottish National War Memorial's stained glass windows.

Historic Environment Scotland’s dedicated website for the First World War includes details about the sites in their care which are connected to First World War.

WW100 Scotland includes a library of resources covering various topics, all available to view online. 

Discover more stories from in the First World War by exploring the National War Museum’s collection online

The Scottish National War Memorial website has some lovely images as well as a virtual tour of the memorial. 

Explore more First World War resources and activities on the Regimental Museums Learning Hub