As part of Hands Across The Border’s highly successful project to build an enormous cairn in Gretna as a symbol of unity and friendship in the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum, Rory Stewart MP will be welcoming ex-servicemen and members of the public to our ‘Commemoration at the Cairn’ event this Sunday from 12 until 3pm. To tie in with the First World War centenary celebrations and to mark the centenary of the outbreak of actual fighting at the Battle of Mons, the event will focus upon the unique history of the local area during the Great War, and will be held with the kind support of the recently opened and nearby Devil’s Porridge Museum, which focuses upon Gretna’s fascinating history as a munitions factory.

Gretna was once the site of the UK’s largest munitions factory which employed some 30,000 people and stretched 12 miles right across the border from Eastriggs in Scotland to Longtown in England. It was also the site of the Quintinshill rail disaster, the UK’s worst ever rail crash, in which some 215 Scottish troops were tragically killed on their way to Gallipoli. The event will have interesting speeches, fascinating exhibits and plenty of food, fun and activities for all ages. All nearby ex-servicemen’s organisations have been invited, along with staff from the nearby MOD Longtown, and we expect a strong turnout.

Rory Stewart has said: “The cairn is being built by people of all political persuasions and none. Regardless of your views on the future of the UK, the event will be about remembering and celebrating what has brought us together and the strength of our shared heritage as part of the United Kingdom. It will be a fantastic opportunity for learning and reflection for members of the public and ex-servicemen alike.” 

Lt Gen Sir Graeme Lamb KBE CMG DSO, a Scottish former Commander of the Field Army and Director of UK Special Forces, will be our special guest at the event. He will be giving a short speech and will be available to speak to the press about his views on the Union. Lt Gen Lamb was deputy commanding officer of multi-national forces in Iraq and was special advisor to US General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan.

The Auld Acquaintance cairn is a traditional, hand built, dry-stone structure being built upon the precise Scotland-England border in a bend of the River Sark. As the referendum draws closer, the project continues to show promise as one of the most successful and heartfelt appeals for unity in the British Isles, and is the only ‘physical’ opportunity for English, Welsh and Northern Irish people to demonstrate their belief in Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom. Thousands of visitors have already come to our site, bringing stones from as far afield as Cornwall, Sutherland and Texas to place on the cairn. The dry-stone walling for the inner chamber and outer wall, having been conducted by drystone wallers and using stone from both sides of the border, has finished and the cairn is now visually very impressive. Directions to the site can be found on our website here:

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