5th June 1959:- 1400-year old burial ground to be closed.
Sheriff A.M.Prain at Perth yesterday ordered the closure of Abernethy burial ground which is believed to have been in use for 14 centuries. He heard during evidence of the frequent unearthing of old bones and skulls.
The Sheriff had been asked by Abernethy Town Council to authorise the closure of the burial ground.
A report was submitted to the court and it pointed out that the first church at Abernethy had probably been built about 577 A.D. although the burial records were far from complete. The earliest burial recorded was that of the fourth Earl of Angus in 1463 and it appeared that burials had taken place on the same site throughout the last 1400 years.
Forty three year old John Provan, former gravedigger at the cemetery, said in court that the churchyard was so congested that he frequently unearthed old coffins, bones or skulls while digging new graves. Many of the graves were very shallow.
The location of many existing graves was not accurately known because through the ages many headstones had been removed, as when there was a shortage of building material headstones had been used instead.
The closure order on the old burial ground would be subject to certain exceptions for relatives of persons already interred there.