Fife Council is responsible for 115 cemeteries and churchyards in Fife where regular maintenance is still carried out in them all and around half of them still receive burials. Of these there are 62 cemeteries where interments (burials) take place regularly.
Cemeteries and burial grounds
Purchasing a Lair
This cannot be guaranteed. It will be dependent on a number of things including the type of ground and adverse weather. If the required depth cannot be achieved you will be informed as soon as possible. If this is the case, you can make appropriate decisions on how you may wish to proceed.Burial Grounds
Different Types of Funerals
Civil funerals are increasingly common. They are simply more appropriate for those who neither lived according to religious principles, nor accepted religious views of life or death.
A civil or humanist funeral recognises no god or "after-life", but instead uniquely and affectionately celebrates the life of the person who has died. It is a personal and dignified tribute created by a professional celebrant who works closely with the family or executor and funeral director.
A Funeral Celebrant is a person who can help plan, write and lead a Funeral service. People from all walks of life choose to become a celebrant but all are motivated by a strong desire to help families give the person who has died a good send-off, one that honours, gives thanks for, and, even, celebrates a life.
Some Celebrants are introduced to families by a Funeral Director, others are approached directly. Either way, all will work closely with the family and the funeral director to ensure everything goes to plan.
The celebrant will aim to create a highly personal ceremony with the help of family and/or friends - recounting the person's experiences, attributes and qualities using music, poetry, readings and personal anecdotes. The civil funeral may be held anywhere except religious buildings and churches.
The ceremony is appropriate for burial or cremation in a non-religious burial ground.
British Humanist Association
The BHA is the national charity supporting and representing people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. It campaigns for an open society, a secular state and for a world without religious privilege or discrimination. Humanists are atheists and agnostics who make sense of the world using reason, experience and shared human values. They take responsibility for their actions and base their ethics on the goals of human welfare, happiness and fulfillment.
See the British Humanist Association website (takes you to an external site) for more information on civil or humanist funerals.
There is no written rule that says that you have to use a Funeral Director, however, at such a difficult time and when there is such a lot to organise and consider, unless arrangements have been made well in advance of the death, special consideration should be given to this option as they will know many of the procedures that need to be followed and will know the order in which they must be done. The Funeral Director organises the funeral by collecting and moving the body, arranging embalming (if required) and viewing of the deceased, ensuring that statutory certificates and other information is relayed to the cemetery or crematorium office, providing a coffin, hearse and liaising with the cemetery or crematorium office regarding the service in the chapel or at the graveside. Carrying out these services relieves the bereaved from doing what they may feel are unpleasant and difficult tasks at a difficult time.
However, some people do not wish to use a Funeral Director and this can be for a wide variety of reasons. They may feel that passing the body of a loved one over to strangers is wrong. Some feel that personally organising the funeral is their final tribute to the deceased person. Others may simply wish to save money by doing everything themselves.
When someone dies a medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be issued and must be taken to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages before any funeral arrangements are made, where possible, as a cremation can not go ahead without the death being registered.
The death should be registered as soon as possible after the death, certainly within 8 days of the death. The registration be carried out by:
- Any relative of the deceased, or;
- Any person present at the death, or;
- The deceased’s executor or other legal representative, or;
- The occupier, at the time of death, of the premises where the death took place or;
- Any other person having knowledge of the particulars to be registered.
If you wish to make the funeral arrangements rather than use a funeral director then please contact us on the details below for advice on what paperwork is required for either burial or cremation.
Erection of Monuments
Due to the settlement which occurs during the first few weeks, we do not permit headstones to be erected within the first 12 weeks following a burial. This is to ensure that the headstone foundation will remain secure and not become unstable. The exceptions to this are where cremated remains have been buried or where there is already a concrete plinth in place for fixing memorials to.
Any headstone erected is the responsibility of the lair holder and therefore the maintenance and safety of the headstone lies with that person or their successor. An application form can be printed off from the publications section and posted to the address at the bottom of this page. Alternatively, you can obtain an application form from a memorial mason. Once submitted to Fife Council, we will check the information is correct then arrange for a concrete foundation to be installed to nationally recognised standards for headstones. A permit will be issued to the memorial mason once the foundation is ready for the headstone to be erected on.
There is a risk of vandalism or other damage due to wear and tear therefore it is advisable to have the headstone insured. Permission to erect a headstone on a lair is required, and the headstone will be monitored for stability and safety on a regular basis. An application form must be completed and be signed by the person named on the Registry Certificate or their rightful successor. Usually the monumental sculptor you choose will assist with the completion of the form. Once received the Council will install a foundation to a nationally agreed standard and issue a permit to the monumental mason to allow the headstone to be erected. There is a fee for permission to erect a headstone and for the installation of the foundation.
The headstone will be examined to ensure that it is in a safe condition. Should repairs be required the lair holder or representative must carry these out, failing which, the Council reserve the right to remove the headstone under Health & Safety legislation.
We prefer that you do not erect enclosing fences or verges and fences around the full length of the grave are not allowed under any circumstances. Fences and verges around headstones or graves can cause many problems for maintenance and need to be removed when adjacent graves or the main grave need to be opened. For health and safety, fences with points or spikes will not be allowed and we can remove them after giving you notice. If you'd like to have a fence or verge, please make sure you get permission from Bereavement Services first.
Should you wish to plant something in the headstone border, please remember that even dwarf conifers become large over time. Anything planted should be suitable for the site and should not encroach onto neighbouring graves. Conifers, trees and most shrubs are not suitable and in time their roots systems will find their way into the grave and under the headstone. Alpines, heathers and bedding plants are considered the most appropriate.
If you are considering placing ornaments at the headstone, these should be kept to a minimum. Cemeteries are open to the general public at all times and while we try our best to ensure they are secure places, items can be stolen or damaged. The placing of solar lights, lanterns or similar is not felt to be suitable by many visitors to our cemeteries and again can be susceptible to damage or theft. You may wish to consider creating a commemorative area within your own garden where ornaments and lights are not subject to the same problems as being placed in a cemetery.
Please do not enlarge the designated headstone border as this causes significant operational problems when graves require to be opened and also interferes with general maintenance. Please remember the land remains the property of the Council at all times.
The following points should help explain what type of memorabilia is permitted in front of a headstone:
- Enclosed fences / kerbs should not exceed 8 inches from the front of the base of the headstone.
- Items within this specified area (within 8 inches from the front of the base of the headstone) do comply with regulations.Items of memorabilia should not be displayed outside this specified area.
- Large items and fences / kerbs that are deemed to be unauthorised will not be removed without first contacting grave owners / family members.
- Fife Council urges anyone who wishes to put up larger commemorative items (such as solar lights or fences) to seek guidance from Bereavement Services beforehand.
These rules refer to the newer graves in our cemeteries where there is a headstone but no kerbing. The rules on memorials don’t apply to ‘traditional’ graves which include kerbs that are an integral part of the headstone and run the full length of the grave. These are most often found in older parts of our cemeteries.
Click here to download the full Management Rules for Regulation of Burial Grounds & Crematoria.
Where there are extensive items of memorabilia, it can make it difficult for staff to operate and run the cemetery. These items may also intrude onto other adjoining graves, making it difficult to care and maintain them. Bereavement Services understand that some families will find removing items difficult. Our staff are always on hand to offer help and advice. Any work that we may carry out will always be done as sympathetically as possible.
Burial Rules and Regulations
Click here to download the full Management Rules for Regulation of Burial Grounds & Crematoria.
Commonwealth War Graves
Commonwealth War Graves Commission home page - https://www.cwgc.org/
Fife Cemeteries List - www.cwgc.org/find/find-cemeteries-and-memorials/results
Exhumations are very rarely carried out and require a Sheriff’s warrant. Where exhumation is requested by a family purely to transfer the location of the deceased, this decision should be given careful consideration as the exhumation process can be a very intrusive process.
The family requesting the exhumation are required to submit a 'Plea-in-Law' via a solicitor to the Sheriff. Permission to apply for the warrant to disinter must be given by the person recorded as the Lair Holder and by any close surviving relatives of the deceased.
A 'Certificate of Feasibility' issued by the Council (Bereavement Services) should also accompany the solicitors application to the Sheriff.
The Sheriff has to be satisfied that the request is justifiable before a warrant may be granted.
An Environmental Health Officer must be present at the exhumation to supervise the event to ensure that respect for the deceased person is maintained and that public health is protected.
There will be charges made by the solicitor, the court and the Council. Additionally if a Funeral Director is involved for any part of the process costs will be payable to them also.
Charges will be applicable and will be based on the circumstances of each particular case.