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Heritage society leader's frustration over lack of repair work at historic Sutherland cemetery after storm damage a year ago

By Staff Reporter

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Clyne Heritage Society chairman Dr Nick Lindsay says he is “frustrated” that no repair work has been carried out at Clynekirkton cemetery near Brora after a storm caused extensive damage last year.

Storm Otto in February last year left a trail of destruction in the Highland Council-owned graveyard.

Damage to the graveyard’s wall was caused when a tree toppled over in Storm Otto.
Damage to the graveyard’s wall was caused when a tree toppled over in Storm Otto.

Winds of up to 88mph caused two trees to crash down, severely damaging an inner enclosure. A third tree fell in the aftermath of the storm damaging the graveyard’s perimeter wall. Three headstones also toppled.

At the time Dr Lindsay accused the local authority of “structural neglect” and said officials had been told as far back as 2009 that trees in the graveyard were diseased and likely to come down in gale force winds.

Dr Nick Lindsay.
Dr Nick Lindsay.

He called on Highland Council to come up with a short-term repair plan and a long-term maintenance plan.

However the local authority responded that it was uncertain whether it was responsible for the cemetery which may be privately owned.


Heritage society's anger over 'structural neglect' of historic East Sutherland graveyard

The historic burial ground is the churchyard of the old parish church of Clyne, which was built in 1770 and abandoned in 1922.

Dr Lindsay said last week that Clyne Heritage Society was “powerless” to take action or carry out any work at Clynekirkton as it did not own the site.

He said: “The society has frequently and regularly lobbied the council, as the owners, to do something, before the whole site deteriorates further.

“Unfortunately, there has been no action since the main damage was caused by Storm Otto and the graveyard, church and walls are in a precarious state.

“Another big storm could topple more trees, and cause further irreparable damage. It is very frustrating."

Dr Lindsay added that it would be helpful if anyone concerned about the cemetery could lobby local councillors to put pressure on the authority to carry out repairs.

A Highland Council spokesperson said: “We have been in communication with Clyne Heritage Society regarding ownership and it is thought Highland Council is responsible for the burial ground but not the church.

“The storm damaged trees have been removed and we are working with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to facilitate repairs to the damaged wall and remove dead trees.”

The spokesperson added that there were problems with the maintenance work in that HES’s guidelines were that strimmers should not be used around headstones and the council did not have the resources to hand cut vegetation.

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