Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Safety work planned for kirkyards

Safety work planned for kirkyards
14 June 2018

Work on headstones found to be in an unsafe condition is about to begin at kirkyards in Orkney.

Orkney Islands Council announced recently that in common with local authorities across the country, it is carrying out a safety review of the county’s burial grounds.

“To date, we have found that a handful of headstones need immediate attention,” said Darren Richardson, the Council’s Head of Infrastructure and Strategic Projects.

“This will start as soon as possible. We will also carry out repairs to around 20 headstones that need urgent work to make them safe.

“Many other headstones need attention and we will plan how best to progressively address this in the coming weeks.”

Orkney's kirkyards date back over a considerable period and some of the headstones are extremely old. Others have been affected over the years by the wind, rain and frost.

If records allow, the Council will contact family members and advise them of the action that has taken place or is planned.

Darren Richardson added: "We have a responsibility to inspect burial grounds and make sure they can be visited safely. We will do our best to get in touch with families in advance to let them know that work is planned. Sometimes, however, we will need to take more immediate action if the inspections show this to be necessary.

“It is important to say that relatives have responsibilities to keep family graves in good order and part of this should be a check on headstones to make sure they are in a safe condition. We expect to be tracing relatives with headstones that need repairs at some point in the future, so we can remind them of this and look at recovering some of the costs of the repairs that will be needed.”

Later this year, the Council will consider the possibility of introducing a long-term headstone maintenance charge people could opt for when purchasing a lair in one of the county’s kirkyards.

People with any concerns, or in need of further information, should get in touch with customer services at the Council on 01856873535 and provide as much detail as possible about the location of their relative’s headstone.