What to do with ashes in the UK

Are you wondering what to do with cremation ashes? We know from talking to families that many people struggle with this decision. Often a person dies without leaving instructions about what they would like to happen to their ashes once they have been cremated. 

When do you need to decide what to do with ashes?

When you arrange a cremation you will be asked what you would like to do with the ashes. You do not have to make a final decision at the time. You can ask the funeral director or crematorium to look after the ashes until you are ready to collect them.

Ashes can be placed in a single niche in one of our barrows for one year, giving you a safe resting place and time to think about what you would like to do with them. At the end of the year you can choose to keep the ashes in your niche or scatter them. 

If you would like to retain your niche in the barrow, you can extend the term for another year, or up to 99 years. You can also personalise your niche cover, if you haven’t done so already. 
Alternatively, if you wish to scatter the ashes, you can do this at the barrow site or another location. You may wish to plant a tree by the barrow, which we will source from the Woodland Trust. The cost of a tree is included in the price of a one-year term for a single niche.

Is it legal to keep cremation ashes at home?

Yes, you can keep cremation ashes at home. There are various ways to do this, for example in an urn, or you could mix them with compost and grow a plant on top.

Are there any rules about where you can scatter ashes in the UK? 

The law on scattering ashes in the UK is relaxed. You can scatter cremation ashesanywhere, provided you have the landowner’s permission. 
This includes parks and commons, or your loved one’s favourite beauty spot. National parks and National Trust sites are a possibility, but you need permission and ashes must be scattered discreetly. No markers can be left. 
Ashes can be scattered in your own garden. Remember, if you move you will no longer have access to the site. 

You are welcome to use one of our barrows for a year and then if you wish you can scatter ashes and plant a tree in memory of your loved one. Find out more about our barrows.

What do most people do with ashes?

According to The Cremation Society, 78% of funerals in the British Isles involve cremation.

What do people do with cremation ashes? In 2015, the Society reported that:

  • 74% were removed from the crematorium but what happened to them is unknown
  • 18% were scattered at the crematorium
  • 6% were interred at the crematorium
  • 2% were retained pending instructions

There are several options available to you. Ashes can be interred or buried. This can be in a cemetery churchyard, woodland burial site, or at a crematorium.

Placing them in a barrow means you can access them at any time if you decide to scatter them later. You can also pass your niche on to future generations. There is no limit to the number of urns you can place in a multi-urn niche.

If you wish to carry ashes around with you, then a portion of them can be used to create jewellery. Any unused remains from this process will be returned to you. Alternatively, you could choose to put them in a pen or the handle of a walking stick. If you want your loved one to be among the stars, you can even send ashes into space.

If you would like to talk through the options, please contact us.

Keeping your loved one’s ashes in one of our barrows

Choosing to keep your loved one’s ashes in one of our barrows gives you peace of mind, knowing they are safe, resting somewhere meaningful, and that you can visit them at any time. Whether you are looking for somewhere you can keep cremation ashes while you and your family make arrangements or you know this is going to be a lasting resting place, a barrow is a sacred place where your loved one’s ashes and their memory will be honoured.

Our team is here to support you. We will help you choose a niche. There are three sizes available: single, double, or multi-urn, giving you the opportunity to keep relatives together. Terms vary from one year up to 99 years for a single urn niche and are renewable. Your niche can stay in your family and be passed from one generation to the next. 

You can hold a memorial service at the barrow before the ashes are placed in their niche. You will have access to the site at any time so you can visit whenever you please, unless there is a private event taking place. We put dates of these on our website so it’s easy to check before you travel. If you would like to hold a private event at the barrow, let us know and we will make arrangements.

If you have chosen a one-year term, this provides the option for you to scatter the ashes at the end of the year and plant a tree. 

Your family (or solicitor) will be contacted three months before the end of the term advising that the agreement is due for renewal. If the agreement is not extended, in the absence of any other instructions and after a period of three months, the urn(s) may be removed, and the ashes strewn in a marked area within the barrow’s site. Ashes will always be scattered on or around the barrow.

You can choose to extend the term or scatter the ashes yourself. 

If you would like to know more about placing ashes in one of our barrows, please get in touch with us.