Management Rules For Comhairle Owned Cemeteries


1.1       Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has made the following Rules and Regulations for the management of cemeteries in the Western Isles in terms of Section 17 of the Burial Grounds (Scotland) Act 1855 and Section 112 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 which shall apply to all cemeteries owned by the Comhairle.

1.2      The Management Rules for Comhairle Owned Cemeteries supplement the “Conditions of Contract” and “Specifications for Grounds Maintenance and Grave digging in Cemeteries” which form the basis for contracts let by the Comhairle for grave digging and grounds maintenance in a range of cemeteries.

1.3       Comhairle nan Eilean Siar shall delegate the administration and enforcement of the “Management Rules for Comhairle Owned Cemeteries” to the Director of Technical Services or such others as the Director may appoint.  The appointed party shall be the main point of contact for the Appropriate Officers and staff employed in the maintenance of cemeteries.


2.1       In these regulations the following words and expressions shall have the meanings assigned to them below.

a)         “The Comhairle” means Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, having its principal offices located at Sandwick Road, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2BW.

b)         “Appropriate Officer” means the person or persons for the time being appointed by the Comhairle in that designation responsible for the good management of Burial Grounds.

c)         “Lair” means any grave or plot.

d)         “Memorial” means any Gravestone, Headstone, Tomb, Monument, Cross, Flat Stone, Paving, or other monumental works or any flower vase with inscription or any other erection erected, constructed, placed or laid (for the purpose of a memorial) over or upon any grave.

e)         “Ordinary grave” means a grave in which the exclusive right of burial has not been purchased.

f)          “Private grave” means a grave in which the exclusive right of burial has been purchased in perpetuity.

g)         “Lair holder” means that person who has purchased or inherited or been granted the exclusive right of burial in a private grave.


3.1       For the purpose of distinguishing the parts of the cemetery in which interments shall be made, the Appropriate Officer shall keep a plan of the cemetery and such plan shall show clearly the sections of the cemetery with each lair consecutively numbered. The plan shall be available for inspection by the public on application to the Appropriate Officer.

3.2       The Appropriate Officer shall keep the Register as required by the Burial Grounds (Scotland) Act 1855, Section 31, and shall enter therein all burials which shall be made in the ground distinguishing by the number on the plan the exact lair or portion of the ground in which such burial has been made, the depth of the grave and the date of burial. The Appropriate Officer shall also keep such other records as the Act requires or that the Comhairle may prescribe.

3.3       Where such records are held in electronic form, they should be securely held with appropriate back up arrangements.

3.4       The exclusive right of burial shall, subject to the rules and regulations, be sold at the rate or rates fixed by the Comhairle from time to time and a payment of the appropriate amount shall be made before a burial takes place.

3.5       The Director of Technical Services or other such party as may be appointed by the Comhairle shall have delegated powers to fix the rate or rates at which exclusive rights of burial are sold, the rates to be charged for interments, and all other such rates and charges as may from time to time apply.

3.6       Purchased lairs shall be allocated in rotation at the discretion of the Appropriate Officer of the Comhairle. Only such lairs as are numbered on the cemetery plans shall be allocated.

3.7       No person shall, at any one time, be entitled to purchase, or hold the exclusive right of burial in, more lairs than that required for the interment of four adults.

3.8       The Appropriate Officer shall furnish the purchaser with a lair certificate describing the lair.  Lair holders duly registered with the Comhairle shall have exclusive right of permitting the lair to be opened and the production of a certificate will be held as sufficient authority. Except in the case of trustees or at the discretion of the Appropriate Officer upon a request for a lair to be held in joint names, one person only shall be registered as the holder of a lair or lairs. No lair holder shall be entitled to transfer any or all of his lairs during his lifetime without the sanction of the Comhairle.

3.9      No exclusive right of burial shall be granted in respect of an ordinary grave.

3.10    No memorial shall be laid on or over ordinary graves and the Comhairle reserves all surface rights.

3.11   On the death of the lair holder the exclusive right of burial in a lair shall, in the absence of a specific bequest, pass to the successor in terms of the Succession (Scotland) Act 1964. Any person claiming right to a lair by succession shall on production of evidence sufficient to establish the claim and on payment of the appropriate fee, but always subject to there being sufficient room in the lair, be entitled to have his or her name entered in the register of lair holders endorsed on the original lair certificate or certificate of registration and such persons shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of the original lair holder. Joint succession to or division of the exclusive right of burial is expressly prohibited except with the express consent of the Appropriate Officer.

3.12    On the death of the person in whose name a lair is registered, the right of burial in such a lair shall require to be transferred to the beneficiary or other successor before being used for further interments. The Comhairle shall not be held responsible for any error or misunderstanding as to the person entitled in the register as beneficiary or successor or as to a person entitled to the right of burial in any lair.

3.13    The holder of the exclusive right of burial in a lair shall not be entitled to sell or assign the same for pecuniary consideration, nor shall they be permitted to inter any stranger in their ground.

3.14    In the event that a holder of the exclusive right of burial wishes to surrender any part of his ground that he has not used, the Comhairle may, at its sole discretion, take back such ground, but the price to be paid shall in no case exceed half the current price for each lair surrendered.

3.15    In the event that the person last registered as holder of the exclusive right of burial in lairs has made no interment in such lairs for 25 years and has ceased to reside in the Western Isles and that no monument or headstone distinguish the lairs, the Appropriate Officer may advise that the exclusive right of burial shall lapse and the ground shall revert to the Comhairle as if such exclusive right of burial had never been granted. Prior to such re-possession the Comhairle shall send a notice of intent to repossess such lairs to the last known address of the lair holder and shall in addition publish, in two newspapers circulated in the Western Isles, notice of their intent to repossess such lairs.


4.1       All interments must be authorised by the Comhairle prior to funeral arrangements being publicly announced and the Appropriate Officer shall on payment of the appropriate interment fee for grave digging, where such fee is applicable, instruct the gravedigger to prepare a grave.

4.2       Notice of interment must be given to the local Comhairle Office as early as possible and in any event at least forty eight hours notice excluding Saturday, Sundays and Public Holidays must be given for the proposed interment. This notice shall not apply in cases of death from epidemic disease, or other interments required to take place immediately upon the certificate from a Procurator Fiscal or from a Medical Practitioner.

4.3       Any notice should state the name and address, age and date of death of the deceased, the relationship of the deceased to the lair holder, the residence at the time of death and the day and hour of interment and any other such information deemed necessary by the Comhairle from time to time.

4.4       Any orders or instructions given by telephone will be received at the sole risk of the person giving such instructions. The Comhairle will not be responsible for any loss or misunderstanding which may arise with regard to orders or instructions given by telephone unless such orders or instructions are immediately confirmed in writing to the Comhairle Office. The Comhairle will not be liable for any failure in arrangements for burial due to circumstances beyond the Comhairle’s control.

4.5       The body of a deceased person will not be accepted for disposal by burial unless such body is properly enclosed in a suitable coffin.

4.6       No coffin shall be removed from any grave with a view to making room for a new interment.

4.7       No coffin shall be buried in a lair unless separated from any other coffin already in the lair by means of a layer of earth not less than 150 mm in thickness. No coffin shall be interred nearer than 750 mm from the foundation or any part of a boundary or other wall or building of any cemetery.  The depth of burial from the surface to the top of the coffin should meet the current legislation.

4.8       Where conditions allow, lair holders should be encouraged to accommodate two burials in every private grave, observing the requirements for sufficient depth and cover as at 4.7 above.

4.9       The minimum dimensions of a lair shall be 900 mm wide by 2,700 mm long. The number of burials which can be accommodated in any particular lair cannot be guaranteed in some areas.  This will be subject to ground conditions and the discretion of the Appropriate Officer whose decision shall be final. The Comhairle shall keep registers in which shall be recorded every interment specifying the lair, the depth of the lair, the date of interment, the name and age of the person buried and all other requisite particulars.

4.10    A plan of the cemetery and the table of interment fees and other charges shall be kept at a local Comhairle Office. All fees and charges in connection with the interments, lairs, lair certificates etc. shall be acknowledged on an official printed receipt form.

4.11    The funeral director shall be responsible for the provision of sufficient bearers to convey the coffin reverently from the hearse to the graveside and for lowering the coffin into the grave. If persons acting on behalf of the Comhairle are asked to assist, neither they nor the Comhairle will be held responsible for damage to the hearse or coffin.


5.1       In addition to normal lairs which may be used for the interment of cremated remains, designated areas for the interment of cremated remains may be provided in some cemeteries.

5.2       The exclusive rights to the lair will be sold with the right to erect a memorial which shall be restricted in width to 75 mm less than the width of the lair at which it is to be erected and a maximum height of 1500 mm. The base of the memorial may contain a flower vase holder. No other forms of memorials, vases or planting will be allowed on the lair space. Any proposed variations to these measurements should be by written request to the Appropriate Officer who shall at his / her sole discretion have powers to waive or modify this regulation.

5.3       Application for the interment of cremated remains must be made in the same manner and providing the same information as in section 4 above.

 5.4      Cremated remains must not be scattered in any part of the cemetery.


6.1       The erection of memorials shall only be permitted on purchased lairs.

6.2       A lair holder shall be entitled to have a memorial erected but such memorial shall not intrude in any way over that part of the lair to be opened for burial. No memorial shall be erected within any burial ground until a plan or sketch thereof showing suitable scale has been submitted and approved by the Appropriate Officer. The maximum height of any memorial shall be 1.5 metres and no monument shall exceed 450 mm in depth or 900 mm in width, including the base, on a single lair. Any proposed variation of these measurements must be by written request to the Appropriate Officer who shall at his full discretion have powers to waive or modify this regulation.

6.3       A lair holder is liable for the risks of any damage by or to any monument/ memorial on the lair. Space for flower vases will be permitted within 450 mm of the base of the headstone. The Comhairle will not be responsible for any loss or damage to such vases. Glass or pottery containers will not be allowed.

6.4       The lair holder shall keep memorials clean and in a safe condition of repair of which the Appropriate Officer shall be the sole judge. Failing attention to this requirement within 21 days after written notice to the lair holder at their last known address the Comhairle shall be entitled, at the holder’s expense, either to repair the memorials or to cause to have them removed and until the cost of such repairs or removals are paid the right to use the lair shall be withheld. No planting of any nature including trees, shrubs, bulbs, herbaceous or annual plants shall take place upon the lair.

6.5       The application for the erection of a memorial must be approved by the Appropriate Officer and must conform to the administrative requirements of the Comhairle.

6.6       All work in connection with the erection of any memorial shall be carried out to the satisfaction of the Appropriate Officer and the whole expense of such erection and the making good of any damage to the Comhairle or any property shall be borne by the person instructing the erection of such memorial. Foundations for all memorials must be constructed in accordance with such recommendations issued by the National Association of Monumental Masons from time to time. Memorials are erected at the owner’s own risk and the Comhairle will not be responsible for loss or damage.

6.7       The section and number of a lair must be cut clearly upon the side of the memorial at the expense of the person erecting the memorial.

6.8       No memorial or part thereof shall be removed from the cemetery without notification to the Comhairle.

6.9       No operation of any kind shall be permitted inside the cemeteries without the sanction of the Appropriate Officer who must be satisfied that the authority of the lair holder has been obtained before work commences.

6.10    Charges for permission to erect and place any memorial in the cemetery shall be in accordance with the rates determined from time to time by the Comhairle.


7.1       The hours when any cemetery shall be opened and closed shall be such hours as may from time to time be intimated by notices displayed at or near the principal entrances.

7.2       The Comhairle may by notices posted at or near the place to which it refers close any part to the public for such time as it may consider necessary.

7.3       No person shall enter or leave any cemetery except by the entrances and exits provided for that purpose.

7.4       No person shall enter or wilfully remain in the cemetery except during the hours in which same is open to the public as agreed from time to time by the Comhairle.

7.5       Children under sixteen years of age must be accompanied by their parent, guardian or an adult.

7.6       No dogs shall be admitted with the exception of guide dogs.

7.7       Memorial wreaths shall be removed at the discretion of the Appropriate Officer.

7.8       No kerbs, stones, footstones, railings, chains or fences will be permitted on lair spaces within the cemetery.

7.9       No person shall unlawfully interfere in any way with a lair.


8.1       Car parking facilities provided by the Comhairle for the convenience of patrons shall only be available during such times as the facilities of the cemetery are being used. In all cases the directions of the Appropriate Officer must be complied with and all vehicles must be driven at a reasonable speed and with due care and attention.

8.2       The Comhairle shall not be held responsible for damage to vehicles or other property left in the car parking area however such damage may be caused.

8.3       Vehicles conveying memorials or goods into the cemetery ground will only be allowed with the consent of the Appropriate Officer. The person or persons in charge of such vehicle must comply with the directions of the Appropriate Officer as to the route to be followed within the grounds.


9.1       No person shall:
a)           Use offensive language or behave in an offensive disorderly or insulting manner whilst in the cemetery.
b)           Wilfully or carelessly obstruct, disturb or corrupt any officer or employee of the Comhairle in the exercise of his / her duties or in the execution of any works.
c)           Wilfully or carelessly interfere with any other person using the facilities provided by the Comhairle in any cemetery or behave in such a manner as to endanger their own or any other person’s safety.
d)           Disobey any proper instructions given by any Appropriate Officer to ensure the safety and comfort of all persons using the cemetery.
e)           Bring into the cemetery any object or objects which may be considered by any member of the cemetery staff to be dangerous.
f)            In any cemetery climb upon any tree, shrub, wall, fence or railing or upon any memorial, fountain, statue building or other structures.
g)           Wilfully break, damage, deface, disfigure, tamper with or improperly soil any tree, shrub, wall, fence, railing, memorial, fountain, statue, building or other structure in the cemetery.
h)           Wilfully or carelessly damage destroy or improperly soil any article supplied for use by the Comhairle.
i)            Retain or remove any article supplied by the Comhairle after it has been used.

9.2    Should any difference or dispute arise as to the real intent meaning or interpretation of these rules and regulations the decision of the Director of Technical Services shall be final.

9.3    The Comhairle shall be at liberty to alter these rules and regulations or any part of them from time to time as they see fit and to make and enforce such others if they think this necessary for the proper or better management of the cemeteries.


10.1    Any person who has persistently contravened or attempted to contravene the foregoing Management Rules and is in the opinion of the Comhairle likely to contravene or attempt to contravene them again shall be made the subject of an exclusion order in terms of Section 117 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

10.2    Any person who:
On being required to leave any cemetery by an Appropriate Officer of the Comhairle who has a reasonable ground for believing that the person has contravened or is contravening or is about to contravene any of the foregoing management rules fails to leave,
On being informed by the Appropriate Officer, who has reasonable grounds for believing that the person is about to contravene any of the foregoing management rules applying to any cemetery that he is excluded from, enters or attempts to enter the cemetery,
Being a person subject to an exclusion order under Section 117 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 enters or attempts to enter the cemetery to which the exclusion order relates,

shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 1 of the standard scale of fines referred to in Section 225 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.