Headstone safety testing programme set to continue

headstones, testing, Scottish borders council, council, sbc,

Published: Wednesday, 12th September 2018

Our programme of headstone testing continues this month.

Sections of 18 cemeteries will be tested over a six month period, with the checks essential to make sure that anyone who visits or works in the 154 cemeteries are responsible for is safe.

The rolling programme of safety inspections will only check the old and larger memorials in these cemeteries as these monuments carry a greater risk to public safety.

The testing will begin in Earlston Old Cemetery week commencing Monday 24 September.

How have you made people aware of the safety inspections?

We have carried out a series of proactive communications including:

  • Signage being placed at each affected cemetery
  • Posters and flyers being distributed in communities
  • Stakeholder updates being issued
  • A dedicated webpage being created.

The webpage contains a video providing details on how the testing takes place and why it is needed, maps of each area of the 18 cemeteries which will be inspected and Frequently Asked Questions. The webpage will also be updated with estimated dates for inspections at each cemetery as the project progresses.

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, our Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Locality Services

“We know how important cemeteries are to communities and families which is why it is vital we make sure these public places are safe.

“The Council is fully aware that this is a sensitive matter and will ensure the work is undertaken with due respect and only where absolutely necessary.

“This is a big programme of inspections, with around 17,500 of the 90,000 headstones in our cemeteries being tested, and as a result we have tried to let as many people know as possible.

“I would encourage anyone who is seeking more information to visit our website for further details.”

How does the testing take place?

  • The testing process starts with a memorial being checked to see if it is safe
  • If deemed unsafe it will be cordoned off, and signage put in place to make the public and family members aware of the issue
  • However, if there is an immediate safety concern, the memorial will be made safe as soon as possible
  • If the memorial is cordoned off, the family - who is responsible for the memorial - can contact us and arrange for the headstone to be made safe themselves.

We have a five year rolling programme of inspections using a phased approach, with sections of cemeteries categorised based on footfall, age, location and other factors.

Updates on when each cemetery will be tested will be provided at the dedicated webpage.

More information

Images of testing process are available at our Flickr page.

The full list of cemeteries to be tested is below. Please note it is only sections of these cemeteries with old and larger memorials which are being tested.

•        Eildon: Ashkirk, Earlston, Heriot, Lilliesleaf, Shawfield (Selkirk) and Wairds (Melrose)

•        Berwickshire: Ayton, Duns (Preston Road), Old Eyemouth and Lennel

•        Tweeddale: Innerleithen (Traquair Road) and Peebles

•        Cheviot: Ancrum, Old Churchyard (Kelso) and Rosebank (Kelso)

•        Teviot and Liddlesdale: Denholm, Wellogate (Hawick) and Wilton (Hawick)

We are responsible for the safety of 154 cemeteries which contain over 90,000 headstones. However, the responsibility for maintaining any memorial lies with the lair holder.