The Prince of Wales paid a poignant tribute to soldiers from a remote Scottish community who lost their lives in World War One.
He laid a wreath at a new memorial cairn built by the community of Cabrach in honour of soldiers from the Moray farming community and neighbouring parishes at Rhynie, Lumsden and Dufftown.
The Imperial War Museum suggests that the number of war dead from the communities could run to several hundred, far in excess of the official number previously recorded as war deaths.
The reason is that in addition to those officially acknowledged as “lost in battle” are the many who died from disease in France and Belgium – coming from such a remote rural area, they had little resistance.
A recent BBC TV programme, examining the effects of World War One on rural Scotland, quoted an eminent Dutch historian, speaking on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, who referred to the ruined crofts and farm buildings of the Cabrach as representing “perhaps the biggest War Memorial in Europe”.
Charles, wearing a Gordon Highlanders kilt, took part in a short service with local residents, followed by a minute’s silence.
He then laid a wreath which said: “In special memory of those from the Cabrach, and the parishes of Rhynie, Lumsden and Dufftown who lost their lives during the First World War.”
The prince chatted to locals, the youngest aged five and six years old; the oldest Royal Observer Corps veteran John Gordon, 88, who laid a wreath on behalf of the community. His family has farmed in the Cabrach area for over 300 years.
The project was led by Marc Ellington, a leading authority on Scottish cultural heritage, who said: “Each and every aspect of the construction of the cairn has involved members, both young and old, of the Cabrach Community working closely with master craftsman Euan Thompson, a specialist in traditional dry stone construction.
“As well as being one of the finest memorial cairns to be built in Scotland in recent years, this is an outstanding example of what a local community, working together with energy and determination, can achieve.
“His royal highness was greatly pleased with the monument as he is extremely interested in traditional building skills.
“He is a great champion of traditional skills and rural communities. It was a fitting end to a great project.”
Patti Nelson, chairwoman of the Cabrach Community Association, said: “I was especially heartened to see so many children and young people working together with their parents.
“What has been created is magnificent and will provide a lasting memorial to those from the Cabrach who lost their lived during the Great War. It was fantastic to have his royal highness here.”