Graveyard sanctity concerns as church placed on market

BY LISA FALCONER
lisa.falconer@whfp.co.uk

Local residents have expressed interest in purchasing Kirkton Church in Lochalsh, which is currently for sale at offers around £40,000.

A Friends of Kirkton Church Facebook page was set up last week and has now attracted 216 members, with discussions on the possible use of the building ranging from retaining it as a church to creating a community centre or as a base for local producers to sell goods. Many of those in the group support the idea of a community bid for the property and it is hoped to arrange a formal meeting to discuss this soon.

As well as community interest in the B-listed church, which dates back to 1807, some people have expressed concerns about the future sanctity of the graveyard, which is adjacent to the church and was signed over to Highland Council some years ago.

In addition to some graves lying very close to the boundary wall, the ashes of people were also interred in the walls of the church, prompting anxiety about their future.

One woman, whose father’s ashes were among those interred in the church walls, wrote that she had had no contact from the church regarding this but that his memorial plaque had been removed. She added that she did not know whether his ashes remained in the church or not.

A spokesperson for the Church of Scotland, referring to this case, said that the woman had now been contacted and the plaque was to be returned to her. He said it was unknown when the plaque had been removed and due to this the location of the ashes were unknown. He added that the woman was “happy” with the situation. Efforts to contact the woman to confirm this were unsuccessful as we went to press.

The spokesman was unable to confirm if other ashes remained in the church but said that, if so, they would fall under Highland Council’s authority as legal owners of the graveyard. He added that there had been “good interest” in Kirkton since it was placed on the market.