The memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens who is considered by some to be one of the greatest architects of the early 20th Century. Lutyens was commissioned to design many of the Commission’s cemeteries and memorials of the First World War.

His design for the memorial consists of a series of intersecting arches which increase in height and proportionate width. The 16 piers formed have 64 stone-panelled sides carved with names. Each panel of Portland stone, lists the individual commemoration by regiment and rank and then listed by surname. Above are stone laurel wreaths naming significant places on the Somme battlefields of 1915 to March 1918.

Since the completion of the memorial in 1932, the name panels have been amended to add names or remove those whose remains have been identified. Some have been replaced where the inscriptions have become illegible.  The stone steps leading from the rear of the memorial to the cemetery were built in the 1960s when there were also other alterations to the walls around the memorial. In the 1950s and again in the 1970s, significant re-facing and then replacement of the brickwork was required as a result of erosion. In 2015, a major conservation project began which  included repairing the roofs and re-pointing and replacing the drainage system.

 A sketch of Thiepval Memorial
A sketch of Thiepval Memorial

For nearly a century, the memorial has stood as a silent witness to the sacrifice of those killed on the Somme.


Edwin Lutynes

Sir Edwin Lutyens

The distinguished British architect was born in 1869. He was commissioned by the Imperial War Graves Commission to design many of the cemeteries and memorials of the First World War. Many consider his work for the Commission his greatest. It was Lutyens, along with Sir Reginald Blomfield and Sir Herbert Baker, who first went to visit the temporary burial places in Northern France and Belgium to decide how to proceed with the design of the cemeteries.