Next year is the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

The Scottish Government has announced a £1 million Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund to enable war memorials to be refurbished in villages, towns and cities across the country between 2014 and 2018.

It's an official acknowledgment of the importance of ensuring the names inscribed in stone "liveth for evermore". Maintaining the memorials also provides a reminder for future generations of the toll taken by the war, one which it was once believed might end all wars. The length of the list in small communities brings home the devastation wrought on ordinary life; were those with the same surname brothers or cousins and how did those left to mourn cope with losing almost a whole generation? Now that there is no-one left alive who took part in combat and barely a handful of centenarians are old enough to have early childhood memories, our understanding of the Great War depends on historical accounts, photographs and, increasingly, aspects of it filtered through fiction, film and poetry. The popularity of novels, such as Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong and Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy, the evergreen poignancy of the poems of Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, and the recent international success of War Horse, the stage play based on Michael Morpurgo's children's book, are evidence of a need to understand the 1914-18 war through personal cataclysm as well as its historical and geopolitical significance.