Borders graves at risk of flooding no longer up for sale

Greg Cuthbert at Ettleton Cemetery.
Greg Cuthbert at Ettleton Cemetery.

Action has been taken to prevent unnecessary distress for grieving relatives looking to have their loved ones buried in a waterlogged Borders graveyard.

Water has had to be pumped out of graves moments before interments at remote Ettleton Cemetery, near Newcastleton, a burial place for many members of Clan Armstrong.

The issue was raised at a recent meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s Teviot and Liddesdale area locality committee, and community councillor Greg Cuthbert called for drainage to be improved there.

At the same meeting, Ian Robson, a community councillor for Upper Teviot and Borthwick Water, revealed that when his father was buried there, cemetery workers had to pump water out of the grave “right up to the time he arrived, and it is terrible for relatives and distressing”.

The issue has now been taken up by Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson, and he has called on the council to explain what it is doing to tackle the problem.

It has now emerged that although the council is currently undertaking a flood study in Newcastleton, it does not include Ettleton Sike, next to Ettleton Cemetery.

However, because of the concerns raised, the council is no longer selling burial plots feared to be at risk of flooding.

A council spokesman said: “It is normal procedure when preparing burial lairs prior to interment and during periods of wet weather for water to be pumped out of those excavations prior to interment and backfilling.

“At Ettleton Cemetery, the team are aware that drainage issues can occur, and where this is the case, the burial lairs at those locations are no longer offered for purchase and members of the public are offered alternative burial lairs elsewhere within the cemetery.

“The flood team and the neighbourhoods team have been asked to jointly review the position and report back.”