Typically, memorial stones are found in UK cemeteries, church graveyards or sites of historic significance as they mark the spot where people have been buried. However, with cremations now representing over 70% of the UK’s funerals, memorials are increasingly commissioned to mark the spot where ashes are interred (or buried).
Today’s families are seeking more personal and meaningful solutions to store or disperse their loved one’s ashes. This could be scattering or interring ashes in a place of significance and it may involve the erection of a plaque or memorial. Consequently, this trend is raising some concerns by charities tasked with preservation of popular locations.
Just this month, Mountaineering Scotland issued guidance on how bereaved families should dispose of ashes on their ground inviting mourners to explore burial alternatives to scattering. The volumes of ash left in a pile can alter the chemical composition of the soil – in some cases accelerating growth and in others, harming the fine balance of indigenous flora. The charity is also concerned that flowers in plastic wrapping, and the abandoned non biodegradable urns or caskets, creates an environmental consequence for these areas of natural beauty. Their guidance calls for more burying of ashes as this is considered less harmful to the surrounding ecology. Other charities have expressed concern over the unauthorised installation of memorial signs which are essentially considered “permanent artefacts”.
Put simply, landowner’s permission should be applied for before scattering, interring ashes or installing a memorial or plaque. Or choose a woodland site or cemetery with special ground for ashes, both designed to meet the needs of most families. An alternative option, backed by many wild swimming groups, is the disposal of ashes in open water. Burials at sea using specially designed bio-degradable urns is both possible as well as being the one location where specific permission is not required.
Legacies can be left in many ways and we’d be delighted to explore a variety of creative options available to families. This includes comissioning memorial furniture, arranging firework displays, creating ashes into jewellery, glass or artwork, even annual bursaries to help support future generations. We recognise the importance of having a place to go, to pay your respects and can provide guidance on what’s possible and where. Lean on our experience to ensure you have the right legacy, responsibly managed, for you and future generations to come.