A guide to burying ashes
If you’re considering burying the ashes of a loved one who has been cremated, it’s important that you understand where you’re able to do this in the UK and what laws you’ll need to abide by.
Whilst many people choose to scatter cremation ashes, burying them in a grave is a popular alternative and can be a fairly straightforward process. This guide will explore all of the options you have if you wish to bury your loved one’s ashes.
Burying ashes in a grave
It’s common to bury ashes in a grave; whether it’s in a cemetery, churchyard, crematoria garden, or woodland burial ground. You can choose to bury them directly in the ground, or intern them in an urn before placing them in a burial plot.
If you choose to bury the ashes of your loved one, you’ll need to obtain a Certificate of Authority for Burial, which you can get from your local registry office. Your funeral director will need to fill out the appropriate form and return it to the register office within four days.
How to bury ashes in a cemetery or churchyard
If you’d like to arrange for your loved one’s ashes to be buried in a cemetery or churchyard, you’ll be required to sign a burial plot application form which is typically issued by your local council or cemetery.
Once you’ve signed this form, you’ll need to purchase an ‘exclusive right of burial’. This is typically purchased for a period of 75 years and will have certain conditions attached to it, depending on what type of grave it is.
If your family already owns the exclusive rights of burial for a grave, and you can produce either the deed of exclusive rights of burial or evidence that you are the proper person to have the burial rights, then arrangements can be made for an interment to take place.
Your local Dignity Funeral Director will be on hand to help you check local regulations and availability when choosing a grave or burial plot, also known as a 'cemetery plot', for your loved one.
If you would like burial plots which are next to each other, you can enquire about purchasing or reserving multiple plots. If this is the case, please speak to the local authorities about buying a plot and to talk through their specific rules and regulations.
Many woodland burial sites also offer plots for the burial of cremation ashes. If this is your preferred option, you may need to purchase a biodegradable urn.
Burying ashes in your garden or on private land
In the UK, it’s legal to bury ashes in your garden or on private land, as long as you have the landowner’s permission to do so. Burying your loved one’s cremated remains in your garden can be very personal and is the perfect alternative to a traditional burial if you want to keep the ashes close by.
It’s important to be aware that if you sell your home one day, the new owner may not allow you to visit the spot where you buried the ashes.
Burying ashes in a garden of remembrance
Most cemeteries and crematoria in the UK have gardens of remembrance for the burial of ashes. A range of memorials are available to help remember your loved one; these include plaques, benches and trees.
There’s also the option of an above-ground burial for cremation ashes. A columbarium is a type of mausoleum built to contain cremation urns and can be found in some cemeteries and crematoria across the UK.
How much does it cost to bury cremation ashes?
On average, burial charges in the UK add up to £1,797*. These charges cover the exclusive right of burial and the interment fee, which is for the preparation of the burial plot or grave.
Burial charges vary significantly across the UK, so it’s best to contact your local cemetery to find out how much a burial plot will cost. If your chosen cemetery is owned by the local council, you may be able to find a price list on their website.
*Dignity Annual Funeral Cost Survey 2018