Safety checks lined up for 18 more cemeteries across Borders

Wellogate Cemetery in Hawick.
Wellogate Cemetery in Hawick.

Safety inspections are to be carried out at 18 more cemeteries across the Borders, and any headstones deemed unsafe will be cordoned off or laid flat.

The 18 graveyards to be surveyed by a contractor are at Ashkirk, Earlston, Heriot, Lilliesleaf, Shawfield in Selkirk, Wairds in Melrose, Ayton, Duns, Eyemouth, Lennel, Innerleithen, Peebles, the old churchyard and Rosebank in Kelso, Ancrum, Denholm and Wellogate and Wilton in Hawick.

Kelso's Rosebank Cemetery.

Kelso's Rosebank Cemetery.

Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam said: “Clearly this is a sensitive matter. We are very sympathetic to the issues and will ensure the work is undertaken with due respect and only where absolutely necessary.

“Our cemeteries are peaceful, tranquil places, but we also have to make sure they are safe places for everyone.

“It is very unfortunate, and I understand the distress and concern that this action will cause, but the council often has little option but to lay flat unsafe headstones which are not repaired by the owner or their next of kin.”

“Unsafe headstones pose a significant risk, and we must take all reasonable steps to make these areas as safe as possible.

“While there is no specific funding or obligation on the council to reinstate headstones, various alternative sources of funding could be explored by communities, and the council is willing to assist wherever possible.

The council is responsible for more than 150 cemeteries.

Safety checks have been carried out on a rolling basis since 2014.

Inspections have already been carried out at the abbey and Castlewood in Jedburgh, Melrose Abbey, Gala Isle in Galashiels, Stow, Maxton, Benrig, St Boswells, Lauder, the Auld Kirkyard at Selkirk, Southdean, Castleton at Newcastleton, Birgham and Coldingham.