Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Council Carrying Out Safety Reviews of Local Headstones

Council Carrying Out Safety Reviews of Local Headstones
31 May 2018

Following an ongoing safety review of the county's cemeteries, Orkney Islands Council is urging local folk to check on their relatives headstones.

Inspections are currently being carried out and any headstones deemed unsafe laid flat.

Orkney's cemeteries date back over a considerable period so some of the headstones are extremely old. Headstones can also deteriorate due to weather and frost over decades and also be destabilised as new graves are excavated.

If records allow the Council will contact family members and advise them of the action that has been taken.

Darren Richardson is the Council's Head of Infrastructure and Strategic Projects, which has responsibility for burial grounds. He said: "As the burial authority we are required to carry out inspections to ensure the safety of our burial grounds and those people visiting them. Although accidents involving headstones are rare they do occur, including the tragic death of a young boy in Glasgow in 2015.

"We realise that this type of work is sensitive and we will do our utmost to contact any family affected in advance or if a headstone is found to be unsafe it may be after the work is done.

"It is important to note that it is the relatives responsibility to keep lairs in good order. We understand that this isn't always possible if there are no relatives given the passage of time, so by default the Council will act if there is an immediate risk. I would therefore encourage relatives who do look after headstones to check on its state and take action where needed before we have to consider doing so.”