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Call for 'conversation' about orphans in unmarked graves

More than 230 former residents of a Moray orphanage are reported to be buried without headstones.

Cemetery: Some of the graves do not have a headstone.
Cemetery: Some of the graves do not have a headstone. Pixabay

A leading children's charity wants to have a "conversation" about the best way to remember orphans who are buried in unmarked graves.

More than 230 former residents of the Aberlour Orphanage in Moray are reported to be buried without headstones in the grounds of a nearby church.

The cemetery at St Margaret's Episcopal Church has a small stone memorial to "those children who came here and found a home that they never left again".

Sally Ann Kelly, chief executive of the Aberlour Child Care Trust, said that while every child who died in the care of the orphanage was buried individually in a grave marked by a wooden cross, these "deteriorated" over time and were replaced by the single stone memorial.

Ms Kelly said: "We very much appreciate the sensitivity of this matter.

"Aberlour Orphanage was established in 1875 and provided a caring home to many thousands of children until its closure in 1967.

"Every child who died while in the care of the orphanage was buried individually and their graves marked by individual wooden crosses.

"Over time these deteriorated and a stone memorial was established in the graveyard to commemorate the children."

She added: "We would welcome the opportunity to meet those with an interest and to discuss how each of these children can best be remembered in the most appropriate and sensitive manner.

"We would wish to include ex-orphanage residents in that conversation to make sure they are content with any proposals to honour their friends and relations."

Aberlour Orphanage is one of the institutions being investigated by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, which is looking into allegations of historical abuse against youngsters in care.

The orphanage there was established in 1875, and was at one point home to some 600 youngsters, making it one of the largest facilities of its kind in Scotland.

It also took in orphans and destitute children from England and Wales as well as Scotland.

With Balmoral relatively close by, Aberlour Orphanage was visited by a number of members of the royal family, including Edward VII in 1907 and George V and Queen Mary in 1922.

It closed its doors in 1967, after a switch in emphasis saw more youngsters being cared for in small homes in the main cities of Scotland.

In 2017, it emerged that at least 400 children from the Smyllum Park Orphanage in Lanark were thought to have been buried in an unmarked grave at the town's St Mary's Cemetery.

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