Routes of Remembrance: exploring the Ypres Salient and its battlefields, 1919-1939

As a focal point of British military operations during the First World War, Ypres attracted large numbers of British visitors. The sites of memory scattered across the battlefields of Ypres were created by the events of the war. However, their continuing profile, status and significance was very much shaped by the way visitors explored the district. A number of interlocking elements relating to individual, and group, interests and practical issues of access and movement influenced the evolution. This article explores that evolution arguing that the method, and precise route of progression through the landscape was as important as the sites visited. It contends that the privileging of certain sites reflected not only what was invested, emotionally and intellectually, into the spaces, but also the way people arrived at them, accessed and progressed through them and then moved on. This process created a web of routes, circuits, and paths which both dissected and linked Ypres and the Salient into interlocking parcels shaping visitor experiences and clustering sites into ‘micro-geographies’ of remembrance. Navigation around and through these micro-geographies is, therefore, as worthy of study as the site itself.