Cremation is what happens to the majority of people in the UK following their death. It is then for loved ones to make the very important decision regarding the scattering of the ashes. There is a huge range of options available, allowing for a fitting tribute to the life interests and passions of the deceased. However, there are a number of factors which need to be considered carefully before settling on a final location, or locations, to scatter the ashes.

The UK has a liberal approach to scattering ashes with very few restrictions in place. Ashes can be scattered above ground, buried or even fired into the air and there is nothing to prevent the ashes from being divided so that more than one method can be chosen. This article looks at the most popular ways to scatter ashes.

Private Land

All that is required to scatter ashes on privately owned land is the permission of whoever owns the land.  If there is a wish to revisit the site after the scattering, that will be fine so long as the owner of the land continues to permit access. However, the landowner may change their mind in the future or the land may be sold, and the new owner could refuse access. The same concerns apply where people opt to scatter the ashes in their private gardens, so careful thought needs to be given when choosing private land.

Sports Grounds or Clubs

Often a deceased loved one will have had a strong affinity with a sports team or club. A number of factors affect whether it is possible to scatter ashes at these locations. In the case of stadiums of well-known sports teams, some will allow the scattering of ashes and have dedicated memorial areas for that purpose. Others do not permit ashes to be scattered at all.

Local clubs may also have a specific policy to deal with such requests, so it is wise to check what is permitted.  Again, it is sensible to consider how the future might affect the location as sports grounds can be redeveloped, sold or policies altered.

Publicly Accessible Spaces

Many people like to scatter ashes in a park or favourite beauty spot. Beaches, National Parks, forests and hills are all popular places to scatter ashes. Permission will be required from the local authority to use a local park or from the National Trust for land in their ownership for example, but so long as the scattering causes no damage to the environment, permission is readily granted. It is wise to remember that the National Parks are in private ownership so enquiries should be made locally with the landowner.

On Water

The sea, rivers or lakes are popular choices to scatter ashes. No special permission is required to cast ashes onto bodies of water (unless it is privately owned), but it is sensible to make sure no non-biodegradable material is dispersed to avoid damage to the environment, and sensible precautions are taken to make sure that the scattering takes place in a safe and dignified way. The Environment Agency produces guidance for what to think about when scattering ashes onto water.

Cemetery or Burial Ground

It is very common for ashes to be scattered over a cemetery plot or other burial ground. Even where a person would choose cremation over burial, they may want their ashes scattered near to loved ones who have been buried. Individual cemeteries will have their own rules on how ashes can be disposed of. Sometimes the ashes themselves are buried in a family plot or one set aside specifically for ashes.

Into the Air and Sky

It is now possible to have ashes scattered high above the ground. Options available include using a firework to propel the ashes into the air, using a plane to float them from the sky or even have them sent into space and allowed to cascade to the ground. Specialist help will be required to make sure this is done responsibly.


There is a myriad of ways to scatter ashes, meaning that families can always find an appropriate way to mark the passing of a loved one. So long as careful thought is given to the future, any of these methods is a fitting way to deal with the remains.

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