Commuters, shoppers and tourists were greeted by the moving sight of the young characters who moved through crowds handing out cards carrying the name of a soldier who died in the first day of the battle.
More than 100 volunteers were recruited by the National Theatre of Scotland for special performances in Glasgow and Shetland as part of the project, which was created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller.
Around 15000 participants representing the 15 regiments that suffered losses on 1 July 1916 appeared unexpectedly at train stations, shopping centres, public squares and beaches.
The project, entitled “We’re here because we’re here,” ran from 7am-7pm and involved 27 different organisations across the UK, and a mix of actors and first-time performers.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow Clyde College, City of Glasgow College, Eden Court Theatre, Scottish Youth Theatre and the Tron Theatre helped recruit volunteers for the project, details of which were kept a closely-guarded secret.
Simon Sharkey, associate director of the National Theatre of Scotland, said: “To have been involved in what is an unprecedented UK-wide participatory arts project has been a truly fantastic learning opportunity for these young Scottish men.
“The project has not only offered audiences nationwide a unique public theatrical experience, it is also a fitting way to mark the anniversary of a battle which should never be forgotten.”
Deller said: “I wanted to make a contemporary memorial to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, one that moved around the UK with an unpredictability in which the participants took the work directly to the public.”