Shrouds artist Rob Heard has built a 2.3m high free-standing wooden trench in which the tens of thousands of Shrouds are stacked. Visitors walking through experience the immersive nature of this installation; it generates incredibly powerful emotions, giving them a graphic sense of both being in a trench and what the large numbers of those killed really means. Names and details of all 72,396 men killed at the Somme who have no known grave are displayed on the outer walls of The Trench in alphabetical order, sourced from Commonwealth War Graves records.
Rob says, “The Shrouds in their original ‘Layout’ format give dignity and attention to detail, representing the individual who perished; which is very important, to be able to give scale to the loss. The Shrouds in the ‘Trench’ represent the mass loss – a much more uncomfortable and oppressive image of a huge amount of people crushed together. These numbers represent only those with no known grave – a fraction of those who died in the whole battle. The walk through the 50 metre Trench will be like nothing else.”
The Trench premieres in Exeter from 30 June, supported by Exeter City Council. Event details can be found here.

The most remarkable First World War commemoration you will ever see.

Dan Snow

BBC Presenter