Safety checks on way for gravestones at four more Borders cemeteries

Weirhill Cemetery in Melrose.
Weirhill Cemetery in Melrose.

Cemeteries in Lauder and Melrose will be among the next to have their gravestones tested as partof an ongoing series of safety checks by council staff.

The next phase of Scottish Borders Council’s rolling headstone-testing programme is to get underway later this month or in November, and it will see all memorials at Melrose’s Weirhill Cemetery and Lauder’s old churchyeard inspected.

Headstones at Bowden Churchyard, near Newtown, and Legerwood Cemetery, near Earlston, will also be checked.

Those checks follow testing of about 17,500 of the 90,000-plus memorials in the Borders at 18 cemeteries over the past 12 months.

Tests begin with a visual inspection to check the general condition of memorials and identify any signs of damage, wear and tear or leaning.

Hand pressure tests are then carried out, and if any headstones are judged to be unsafe, staff will try a process called socketing that will see them dug into the ground at a lower height but kept upright.

Only if that isn’t possible will gravestones be laid flat.

Further information, including a timetable, is available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/headstonetesting

Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison, the council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and locality services, said: “We know how emotive cemeteries are for local communities, with many being the final resting place for much-loved family members and friends.

“However, the council has a responsibility for the safety of 154 cemeteries in the Borders, and we take this responsibility seriously. This is why we are continuing with these safety inspections of headstones across the area.

“I can also assure residents that staff will carry out their work sensitively and only where absolutely necessary.

“We are trying to be as proactive as possible in terms of letting people know about testing in their area, and this will continue as the programme moves on.

“I would encourage anyone who is seeking more information to visit our website for further details or get in touch directly if you want to check whether your family memorial will be tested.”