With cremation more popular than ever before, more and more people are being faced with the choice of what to do with a loved one's ashes. There are many things you can do with cremated remains, whether keeping them in an urn, having them made into jewellery or art, or scattering them. Scattering ashes is a common choice, and is often done at a location that was important to the deceased during their life. If our loved one has passed away without sharing their wishes, it can be hard to decide where to scatter their ashes — in order to make a decision, it can be helpful to know what your options are and where you're actually allowed to scatter ashes.
In the UK, there are no laws against scattering ashes in specific places, so you can scatter ashes virtually anywhere, provided you have permission from the landowner. There are, however, guidelines to follow when scattering ashes in protected areas, or in areas where harm could come to the environment.
In this article, we will discuss some of the locations where you can scatter ashes, and weigh up some of the factors which may impact your decision.
Where can you scatter ashes?
As there are no explicit laws in the UK surrounding ash scattering, deciding on a specific location can be overwhelming. We've put together a list of locations where you can scatter ashes to help you in your decision, and to answer any potential questions you may have.
An intimate option is to scatter ashes at your home, or at the home of the deceased, such as by their favourite plant or tree in the garden. This is a very personal ash-scattering location both for the deceased and for their loved ones; having the ashes of a close friend or family member at your home can help you to feel close to them.
Something to keep in mind here that is if you are planning on selling a property you may not be able to visit the site of the ashes anymore. However, if you scatter the ashes next to or alongside a plant or other garden feature, then you can take this with you if you move as a site to remember your loved one.
As well as interring ashes in a cemetery, you can also scatter them. However, not every cemetery allows this, and often the ones that do will have a designated space for ash-scattering. If you own a burial plot in a cemetery, such as where a friend or family member is buried, you should be able to scatter ashes over this.
Natural burial grounds will also often allow the scattering of ashes on their site. Like cemeteries, some may have a designated area for this, and some may have specific policies due to their focus on the environment. As such, you can always get in touch to get permission beforehand.
An outdoor space
You can scatter your loved one's ashes at their favourite place such as a park, gardens, a public footpath, clifftop, or a beach. If they had a place special to them, scattering the deceased's ashes here is incredibly personal to them and provides loved ones with somewhere to visit to remember them. This can be especially helpful if the deceased's loved ones don't all live nearby to the house of the deceased or the house where their ashes were scattered. Again, you generally need permission to scatter ashes on public or private land, so make sure to get in touch with the relevant people or authorities if you are considering this.
Scattering ashes in water
If your loved one had a certain body of water they enjoyed visiting, or if they were just an ocean lover, you could scatter their ashes into the sea, or a river or lake. You can scatter ashes in any body of water as long as you get permission from any landowners and follow guidelines from the Environment Agency.
The Environment Agency advises that any ashes put into the sea are done so in a biodegradable urn. You should also scatter ashes away from other people, and the agency specifies that you should be at least one kilometre from water collection points. If you wish to scatter ashes from the shore, there are floating biodegradable urns available that will allow you to do this.
Scattering ashes at National Trust sites
The UK is home to many National Trust sites, which for many people hold treasured memories of their friends and family. If your loved one had a particular National Trust site they liked to visit, or one where you have many treasured memories together, you may be able to scatter their ashes there
While the National Trust doesn't have a formal policy regarding ash scattering, many people have successfully arranged an ash scattering at National Trust sites across the UK, and polite requests are generally granted for any location except those with heavy traffic. Before scattering ashes at a National Trust site, just make sure you have written permission from the property manager, whether on paper or digitally.
You can find the information to get in touch with a specific National Trust site on the Trust's website.
A river, or the sea
If your special someone was an aquatic fanatic, you might consider casting their ashes into a body of water. A river, their favourite lake, or a trip to the coast to pay tribute to their life.
The Environmental Agency advises that the ashes put in the sea must be biodegradable, so you’ll need to ensure sure there is no other debris in the urn, or another receptacle you have taken with you to perform the scattering. Be sure to scatter ashes away from people and, as specified by the agency, at least one kilometre from water collection points. Floating biodegradable urns are available that will allow you to send ashes out to sea from the shoreline.
Scattering ashes at a sporting venue
Was your loved one passionate about cricket? Did they attend their local stadium to watch football matches? Was tennis their biggest hobby? While it may not be something you have ever considered, it is actually possible to have your loved one's ashes scattered at a sports stadium. Various sporting venues across the UK are open to ash scatterings. Some even have memorial areas specifically set aside for ash scattering. Regulations around ash scattering at sporting venues vary from venue to venue, so be sure to find out what is and isn’t allowed.
There is no need to limit an ash scattering to one place, why not divide up the ashes and pay homage to their life by releasing them in a way that reflects their multifaceted nature?
Spreading ashes across multiple locations
If the deceased's close friends and family don't all live near to one ashes scattering location, you may choose to separate the ashes between people. This allows each person to make their own decision on what to do with the ashes, whether keep them, turn them into a keepsake, or to scatter them — and if so, they can choose their own scattering location. This can be meaningful in allowing each person to scatter the deceased's ashes in a place that was special to both of them.
What if I want to scatter ashes somewhere more unique?
If none of the above options appeal to you, and you feel you want to do something extra special for your loved one, how does space sound? At Aura Flights, we scatter ashes in space, 100,000 feet above the Earth. Each of our passengers are carried to space in our bespoke scatter vessel, personalised with an image of the passenger. Following the flight, the loved ones of every passenger receive a personalised memorial video of their ascent into space and the subsequent scattering of their ashes high above the Earth.
When ashes are scattered in space, they travel the globe for up to six months before coming back to Earth in the form of raindrops and snowflakes — enabling you to feel your loved one with you wherever you go. If you want to know more about our one-of-a-kind space memorials, get in touch with our team who will guide you through the process. You can email us at email@example.com or call us at 0114 213 1050.
Deciding where and how to scatter ashes
There are many factors which may influence where you choose to scatter your loved one's ashes; each person's life is complex and you know your loved ones best. As such, there isn't really a definitive list of factors to consider when choosing a location to scatter ashes. However, there are a few things which are certainly helpful to consider in making your decision.
Visiting the site of the ashes
After your loved one's ashes have been scattered, many people find comfort in visiting the site where the ashes were scattered. If this is something you want to do, it may affect your decision on where to scatter ashes. For example, by picking somewhere closer to home, you can more frequently visit the site. If you choose to scatter ashes in the sea, this may bring you comfort when you are near any ocean, even if not the specific place the ashes were scattered. Some people choose to inter or scatter ashes in a cemetery or other burial ground as they like to be able to visit their loved one in an official resting place.
Whichever you choose is ultimately down to personal choice, as some people would rather have one specific site whereas others may prefer to feel their loved one is not in just one place but many. Others may prefer to scatter ashes somewhere that the deceased liked spending their time the most, even if this means they cannot visit them often.
Religious teachings often guide our choices on what happens to our bodies after we die. In some cases, this may prohibit cremation altogether — but for others, it may influence our choice on what happens with our ashes. For example, Catholics believe that if a person is cremated, their ashes should be laid to rest in a cemetery or in a church with an area set aside for this purpose. Similarly, Sikhs generally scatter ashes into a river or sea, or another flowing water source; Hindus also often scatter ashes in a river or at sea.
Someone who follows a certain religion may use this as a guide for what happens to them after death. If your loved one was religious, the guidance of their faith is another factor to consider.
Many people choose to have a ceremony before they scatter their loved one's ashes. Generally, this consists of friends and family gathering at the ash-scattering site, and could include readings such as from a religious text, poetry, delivering a eulogy, or music such as the deceased's favourite songs. This ceremony can be as intimate or formal as you want; there are no rules.
An ashes-scattering ceremony can be held in addition to a traditional funeral service, but can also replace the funeral in the case of a direct cremation. A direct cremation is where the body is cremated without a service, unlike a traditional funeral where the deceased is usually present in a coffin or casket. Many people opt to have a memorial such as an ashes-scattering ceremony following a direct cremation. Direct cremations are generally much cheaper than any other kind of funeral, especially if a subsequent memorial is only attended by the closest friends and family.
Making a decision
You know your loved one best and so ultimately, no one can tell you the right location to scatter their ashes. Keeping in mind that in the UK, you can scatter ashes anywhere with the landowner's permission, the choice is really up to you. Whether you opt for a direct cremation or a traditional funeral service, scattering your loved one's ashes in whatever location you choose — whether a cemetery, their favourite outdoor space, or even your own garden — is a meaningful and special way to say goodbye.
Find out more about this one-of-a-kind memorial offering on our homepage.