Project in Progress: Peace Maps of Edinburgh and Scotland
By Elena (Lane) Deamant
For many of us, the pandemic has made us pause in our daily lives and pay closer attention to what uplifts us, strengthens us, and inspires us. Community spaces – both virtual and physical – are even more important in the midst of such a challenging time. In recognition of this, the Peace & Justice Centre is currently working on a project to make two peace maps, one of Edinburgh and one Scotland-wide, that will document and celebrate many of the meaningful places that promote the effort for fellowship, an end to war, and social justice.
The virtual maps will feature satellite imagery with locations demarcated by colour coordinated pins. Each pin will include a description of the site’s history and significance, as well as accessibility information.
These maps are inspired by an open-sourced peace map of Edinburgh made in 2017 by a community initiative called Weave, which has since stopped updating its webpage. We hope that viewers of the new maps will learn about the rich history of peacebuilding in Scotland and appreciate the extent to which these values are ingrained in our community physically and psychically.
The abbreviated descriptions that follow are intended to give you an idea of what the pinned locations on the maps might read (and feel free to check them out if you’re looking for interesting places to visit while we’re all staying close to home.)
Samples from the Edinburgh Peace Map
The Leith Mural (21 N Jct St, Edinburgh EH6 6HW): Painted on the gable end of a building in 1986, this mural depicts various aspects of daily life in Leith throughout time, such as shipbuilding, children playing, and merchant trade. Inspiration comes from oral history and stories told by local members of the community. Accessibility: The mural is visible from the wheelchair-accessible sidewalk.
Edinburgh University Labyrinth: Labyrinths are an ancient pattern used across different cultures and traditions to enhance spirituality and consciousness. Walking along the winding labyrinth path is a calming, centering experience, and can help a person to quiet or focus their thoughts. This stone-laden labyrinth is set in a corner of George Square Gardens and is open to the public. Accessibility: The path is not wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair but there are benches next to the labyrinth.
Political Martyrs’ Monument (Old Calton Cemetery): This 90-foot obelisk was built in 1844 to honor five men who were imprisoned in 1793 on charges of sedition after they campaigned for radical parliamentary reform (universal suffrage and annual parliaments). Thomas Muir, one of the men sentenced, is quoted in an inscription on the monument as saying, “I have devoted myself to the cause of The People. It is a good cause – it shall ultimately prevail – it shall finally triumph.” Accessibility: Only accessible by a staircase.
Kyoto Friendship Garden: This beautiful and quiet garden, situated on the ground of Lauriston Castle along the Firth of Forth, was created to celebrate the official twinning between Edinburgh and Kyoto in 1994. The twinning of two cities is a meaningful act of international unity and signals a mutual commitment to cooperation that strengthens all involved. Accessibility: There is level, paved access to the garden.
Samples of locations from the Scotland-wide Peace Map
Peace Pole Henge (at Allanton Peace Sanctuary, Dumfries): This unique installation is made up of 204 Peace Poles arranged in two large circles, with each pole representing a different country around the world and bearing the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in English and in the language(s) of that country. The circle formation is intended as a spiritual connection to the ancient stones and henges in the Dumfries/Galloway area. Accessibility: Only accessible by unpaved dirt/grass trails.
International Peace Cairn, Ben Nevis, above Fort William: This stone cairn is found at the summit of the mountain Ben Nevis and is recognized as the highest war-related memorial in Britain. The cairn was built in the aftermath of the Second World War, and bears inscriptions from the United Nations and various activists who call for peace among all people. As the final sentence on one of the cairn’s plaques reads: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
We are inviting people to contribute locations to the Edinburgh or Scotland-wide maps – send suggestions to email@example.com to join us in building a community resource that links us through time and space.
Where are your favourite places that inspire you on your path to peace?
Some examples of locations you could suggest: peace gardens, monuments, buildings, sculptures, and historic sites of activism. Indoor locations, such as art or cultural centres, are also very welcome submissions for the map. As such, we do recognize that Covid-related guidelines and restrictions can change rapidly and thus users of the map will be advised to get the most up-to-date information directly from the institution in question before visiting. In your email please specify whether you would like the suggestion to be anonymous. No personal information other than first name would be included on the map (e.g. “Suggested by Mary”).
With your contributions included, the finalized maps will be available on the Peace and Justice Centre website in the near future. We look forward to hearing from you!
Featured image shows the peace cairn at the top of Ben Nevis