Each person has their own unique way of saying goodbye to a friend or family member, the scattering ceremony is a very personal process. Nevertheless, our experienced staff have added below as much information as we can to address what options you have when it comes to the scattering ceremony. We have included a few ideas for locations and suggestions for the ceremony. Please read our cremation process resource if you would like further information on the actual process.
Facts and figures
Cremation in the UK has been a popular way to celebrate a person’s life for centuries, although records show that 1968 was the first time in which the number of cremations exceeded the number of burials and ever since then, the number has been growing. Today it is estimated that around 70% of people choose to be cremated after death.
Scattering Ashes Laws & Regulations in the UK
Depending on the ceremony you are thinking of conducting for your loved one, the laws will affect you in different ways. Overall the UK is quite lax when it comes to scattering ashes, we have detailed below the laws that will affect you depending on your choice of the ceremony if we have missed something and you would like more information on, please feel free to email us and we will help as much as we can.
A large number of people opt to have their loved ones scattered at sea, whether that be via casting ashes or in a decorative water urn. When it comes to the laws surrounding water burial, both scattering and using a biodegradable water urn are covered by the same laws.
For an in-depth read, we have produced a detailed scattering ashes at sea guide that contains everything you need to know about the process and your options.
If you are planning to place the ashes at a river or lake (scattering ashes on the River Thames is a common choice) the environmental agency has stated that this is fine and you will not be required to obtain any additional licenses. They do ask that nothing other than the ashes and any biodegradable materials be used to disperse the ashes, as this can cause harm to the local environment in the form of litter. They also ask that you be aware of others in the locale that might use the water for cleaning or recreational activities – other than that, you are free to place ashes where you wish.
When it comes to placing ashes at sea, you again have the option to cast the ashes of the more popular option of purchasing a water urn that can be placed in the water. Whether you are looking to cast the ashes at the water’s edge or via a boat, the laws are the same, you are free to scatter the ashes where you wish, but again, you must not cast anything that cannot be naturally absorbed by the environment. Casting ashes at the edge of water (such as scattering ashes on a beach) also comes with its own challenges, we would recommend that you plan the trip or ceremony in advance to make sure the tide is at its lowest and that the place of scattering is empty.
If you are planning a more traditional and popular burial of ashes, then there are a few instances where you will be required to gain permission.
Graveyard or crematorium – one of the most common places to scatter ashes is at the place of cremation or a local graveyard. This is mostly an easy process and your funeral director will have more info and will help you set this up.
Private Land burial – If you want to scatter or bury the ashes on your land (ie garden) then this again is fine and is the most straight forward option for you and your family. Please note this might not always be your property so it might be hard to visit the scene in the future.
If you want to place ashes on a private piece of land that doesn’t belong to you then this is down to you to get permission from the landowner, most councils do not allow the burial of ashes, but you are advised to check with your local council in order to get more information.
Countryside – the best option for a countryside burial would be to find a quiet and secluded space where you will not be disturbed and then place the ashes at this point. A popular choice by many is a Bios Urn tree that can then act as a memorial when the tree grows and provides a place of solace for the family to visit.
Where to Scatter Ashes – Popular Places
There are a number of places that people might wish to have their ashes scattered ranging from parks and national sights to sports grounds and homes – below we have listed a few of the most common places requested to scatter ashes in the hope that it will help you out.
National Trust Land
When we have spoken to the national trust on their stance on scattering ashes, they assured us that as long as there is no risk of environmental damage, the scattering process doesn’t interfere with others and it is done privately, with no visual evidence of ashes then they are open to the act.
Prior to taking your loved ones remains along to any national trust site, the written permission must be granted by the property manager – they are also open to green burials, although this is less likely to be granted. Read our guide on scattering ashes on national trust land for more information.
Stratford Upon Avon
There are a number of places to scatter ashes in Stratford upon Avon, unfortunately, Shakespeare birthplace isn’t one of them.
we would recommend contacting the club if you are looking to scatter ashes at Old Trafford – they haven’t responded to our emails and we have read a few stories of people who have scattered ashes in or around the stadium. Look for the museum and tour section of the old Trafford website.
You are not permitted to scatter ashes at the Emirates stadium, nor do they have a memorial garden. You can purchase a granite moral by visiting their armoury square store.
Anfield does not allow the scattering of ashes.
scattering ashes at Ibrox stadium is currently forbidden.
We have contacted a number of the most popular football clubs in the UK to get their official stance on scattering ashes, here is a full list of football grounds
If you are looking to scatter ashes at Kew Gardens you will need to gain a permit by calling the following number – 020 8332 3248.
They hold one scattering per day, so you might need to call earlier rather than later in order to secure the time you want.
The woodland trust is happy for you to scatter ashes on their property although they do ask that you respect the visitors and try to hold the scattering ceremony as discreetly as possible.
Scattering ashes at Disneyland are unfortunately not permitted at any of their locations currently. Numerous news reports have emerged of people who try to scatter their ashes of loved ones, we wouldn’t recommend trying this yourself.
Hot air Balloon
If you are thinking of scattering ashes from a hot air balloon, you will need to contact the civil aviation authority to gain permission prior to taking off.
The below is taken directly from the Ben Nevis website and will give you all you need to know about scattering ashes at Ben Nevis:
While no attempt will be made to dissuade anyone from scattering human ashes on Ben Nevis, you should try to choose an area away from the summit cairn, and also away from the north face on which a number of alpine plants struggle to survive. The more widespread the dispersal the less likelihood of an impact on vulnerable plant species.
How to Scatter Ashes
When it comes to dispersing the ashes, there are a number of methods yo to choose from:
The casting of ashes is as it sounds, simply throwing the ashes out at a chosen place. this comes with its own problems. We would recommend the attending party be situated upwind so that the scattered remains are carried downwind.
Trenching ashes involves digging a long trench and placing the ashes into the trench. Depending on where you ‘trench’ the ashes, you can either cover them over with the soil, lay a biodegradable urn into the trench or leave the trench open, if you are scattering the ashes somewhere like a beach, where the tide will slowly take the ashes away.
Ringing ashes simply put, is the scattering of ashes around an object of some meaning. Many people use this method to ring ashes around a tree that they can come back to visit in years to come.
Raking ashes involves the ashes being placed at a place of significance and then being raked into the ground to incorporate the remains into the earth. This usually takes place on grass at a point of some meaning or can also be performed at another grave, if you would like to lay someone to rest with another person.
Poems, Readings & Prayers
There are, obviously, hundreds and thousands of poems, reading & eulogies suitable for a burial or scattering ashes ceremony, it can be a daunting task when searching for the right poem., below we have highlighted a few of our favourites. We have also written an article to help with some inspiration when thinking about what to say when scattering ashes.
Miss Me But Let Me Go
When I come to the end of the road,
and the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room,
why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little but not too long
and not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared
miss me but let me go.
For this is a journey that we all must take
and each must go alone
It’s all a part of the Master’s plan
a step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart,
Go to the friends we know,
And bury your sorrow in doing good deeds,
Miss me, but let me go.
She is gone
You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she has left.
Your heart can be empty because you cannot see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she is gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she would want; smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep
I am a 1,000 winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sun on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft star that shines at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there; I did not die.
Death Is Nothing At All
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed
At the little jokes, we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!
Alternative Scattering Ideas & Services
Space – a company is now offering the chance to send your loved ones into space to scatter the remains. You will get a personalised certificate and a video of the final moments of releases. This is a nice option for some as your loved one is released back into nature. It can be quite costly, so it might not be for everyone.
Fireworks – placing your loved ones into a firework for dispersal into the atmosphere is a nice way to say goodbye for some. This can be combined with a ceremony and the life celebrated for everyone to see.
Scattering Ashes Tips
Photograph – whatever ceremony you choose for your loved one, we would always recommend that you take some pictures so that if you ever want to look back on the day, the memories are there.
Plant a flower – planting a flower or tree of some sort acts as a comforter if you ever lose a loved one. The flower will act as a living memory to the person and as it grows, you will have something ‘real’ to touch, smell and see that will bring back happy memories.
Stand upwind – if you choose to cast the ashes, please stand upwind to avoid the ashes coming into contact with yourself or anyone attending the ceremony.