Abbotshall graveyard restoration produces some surprises

Abbotshall Church and graveyard
Abbotshall Church and graveyard

Restoration work at Abbotshall graveyard has uncovered a few surprises.

The work was commissioned by Fife Council after the wall surrounding the site had become unstable.

And Peter Mitchell, a specialist in burial, cremation and exhumation work, who is overseeing the project, explained that he is never sure what he might find.

He said: “Fife Council who had noticed that there was some movement in the wall and had to take action.

“There is a pavement on the other side used a lot by school children, and the last thing anyone wanted is a collapse.

“My job was to look at the graveyard side where we decided to reduce the ground level and steady the foundations. This meant some backfilling before rebuilding the wall - the whole point is to make the wall completely stable.”

The job also includes briefly removing some of the bodies buried in the graveyard.

“Peter added: ‘‘I work with families who may want a body moved, or a church may be redeveloping its site and may need some bodies moved from one place to another.

“In the case of Abbotshall it is merely a temporary removal which we treat with the greatest respect and dignity, before we return the bodies.

“We’re working well with Fife Council’s team. It’s slightly like archaeological work - when you start to remove the soil, very similar to ‘Time Team’ on television, and you’re never sure what you’ll find underneath.”
“We found a memorial on the wall but under the ground hidden out of sight with no explanation why. Was the ground raised at one stage?

“Unfortunately the answer is lost in the mists of time!”