Mountains of Memory, Landscapes of Loss: Scafell Pike and Great Gable as War Memorials, 1919-1924

Westaway, Jonathan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4479-3490 (2013) Mountains of Memory, Landscapes of Loss: Scafell Pike and Great Gable as War Memorials, 1919-1924. Landscapes, 14 (2). pp. 174-193. ISSN 1466-2035

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This article examines the response of Lake District mountaineers to the Great War, particularly to the issues surrounding the establishment of a war memorial for fallen members of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District (F.R.C.C.). The club’s donation of land to the National Trust in 1923, with a memorial plaque on Great Gable unveiled in 1924, contributed in the minds of many mountaineers to the sacralisation of this landscape. The Lake District had already been appropriated into an imaginative sporting, athletic and exploratory territory, and one in which the geography of climbing accidents had familiarised mountaineers with the presence of death in the landscape; establishing the mountains as cenotaphs added new layers of meaning, making of the Lake District an extensive memory-laden landscape. Middle-class notions of stewardship and landscape conservation had traditionally rejected material memorialisation in the hills, but the commonality of sacrifice in the Great War reinvigorated the debate. Its donation of land to the National Trust as a war memorial reinvested significance in the link between sacrifice and the sacred, and enabled the F.R.C.C. to resolve a number of conflicts apparent in the liberal middle-classes’ approach to landscape and the outdoor movement, helping the club adjust to the imminent future of widened and more democratic access.

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