Work starting at Prestonpans cemetery to stabilise headstones
The continuation of a programme of stabilisation of unsafe headstones in local cemeteries across the county has now reached Prestonpans cemetery. Local Amenity staff who help to maintain the cemeteries and graveyards are now making the most unstable headstones safe by lifting and re- positioning them into the ground.
East Lothian Council manages 35 churchyards and cemeteries which contain approximately 28,000 memorial headstones. These headstones are an important source of historical information and in some cases date back many hundreds of years. Although legally headstones remain the property of the families that erected them, over the years the family connections have ceased or become difficult to establish. In many cases if repairs are needed to a gravestone there are now no surviving relatives to upkeep the memorial headstones.
East Lothian Council started a programme back in 2015 when it was estimated around 8,000 headstones required action to make them safe. The top sections of loose memorials are lifted using a mechanical hoist and the headstone is then buried down about a third in the ground. This approach means any danger to the public and damage to the stone is avoided, the inscription can still be read and people can safely visit and tend to graves. It also makes it easier, should lair holders wish to at some point in the future, to fully repair their memorial.
Approximately 1,000 headstones a year are currently being made safe and signs are attached to the ones requiring remedial work so any visiting relative will be aware and can contact the council to arrange for this work to be carried out.