Relatives call for action on cracked wall in Fife graveyard

Locals have called on Fife Council to take action on a cracked wall in a Fife graveyard so their loved ones’ headstones can be re-instated.

By Debbie Clarke
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 2:42 pm

For months Marion Wallace and Kathleen Laing have been left in limbo not knowing when the headstones of their loved ones will be put back on their graves at Auchtertool Cemetery.

The headstones were removed temporarily last autumn for safety reasons as the boundary wall at the cemetery, which they were next to, has large cracks in it making it unstable. There were fears its collapse could damage them.

But Marion and Kathleen say they have not been given any information about the work that needs done, or timescales for when repairs are due to start.

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Marion Wallace pictured in Auchtertool Cemetery where headstones have been placed on the ground because of an unsafe wall next to where they originally stood. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

They are both upset because they have been unable to lay flowers at their loved ones’ graves.

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Marion, 74, said she was not told the headstones were going to be removed.

She said: “It is the lack of information – we haven't been told anything about when the wall is going to be fixed.

Marion Wallace pictured in Auchtertool Cemetery where headstones have been placed on the ground because of an unsafe wall next to where they originally stood. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

"This was first brought to their attention at least 18 months ago. A few months later they put a fence up and then a notice went up saying cemetery improvement works and giving an email address to contact them. My daughter has emailed them twice and they have never replied.

"The headstones were removed, I think, in September and that came as a shock – there was no forewarning or anything. It was quite upsetting to see.

"I have three headstones which are affected – two sets of grandparents, a cousin and a great-grandparent."

Fife Council sign in the cemetery where headstones have been placed on the ground because of an unsafe wall next to where they originally stood. Pic credit- Fife Photo Agency

She added: “We are not getting any information about what the hold up is with these works.”

Kathleen Laing, 58, said she has two headstones affected – one of them is her mother’s: "When they took the gravestones away I thought the repairs would be done quickly, but I have heard there is no money available to fix it.

"I go to my mum’s grave ever fortnight and used to take flowers before the headstone was removed. I haven’t been up since Christmas because it is pointless putting flowers down when the headstone is nowhere near the grave. It is quite upsetting.”

Liz Murphy, service manager for bereavement services, said: "The condition of part of the boundary wall at Auchtertool Cemetery has deteriorated, with large cracks making it unstable, so we've fenced off an area as a safety precaution. We also temporarily moved some headstones sited immediately next to the wall to an area close by.

Marion Wallace. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

"The wall is under pressure from a build-up of earth from the field behind which will need to be moved, to allow the wall to be rebuilt. We expect work will begin in the spring though it will take some time to complete.

"When this happened, we wrote to families affected, but sadly we don't always have up to date contact information so we couldn't get in touch with everyone. In future, we'll also put notices in the cemetery once we know what the timescales are.

"We understand families who've lost someone close will want to see headstones reinstated as quickly as possible, and we'll try to get the cemetery back to normal as soon as we can."

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Headstones have been placed on the ground because of an unsafe wall next to where they originally stood. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

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