DANGEROUSLY unstable gravestones in a churchyard will be uprooted and laid flat unless relatives agree to have them made safe.

Many of the heavy memorial tablets in the burial ground at St Mary’s Church in Minera – some of which date back to 1850 – have become loose in the ground and are in danger of toppling over.

More than 30 are unstable and worried church leaders say they pose a danger to visitors or people attending funerals.

They have now given families responsible for the headstones until the end of October to have them stabilised or see them taken out of the ground and laid flat.

Alan Story, the church member in charge of the churchyard, said: “Some of the gravestones are unstable. They weigh a considerable amount and could easily fall over and injure someone.

“If they are left as they are they will deteriorate further and become precarious.

“We have started putting notices beside these graves asking relatives responsible for them to arrange for them to be made safe.
“About 12 have so far been done but there are still 32 outstanding.
“If nothing is done we will ultimately have to have them taken out of the ground and laid down flat.
“We certainly don’t want to have to do that but this is a health and safety matter.”
He added: “We have put up notices around the area to say that if relatives don’t take action we will have to have the work done by the end of October.
“We are trying to do this in an appropriately respectful manner so the stones stay safe.
“We still have five or six burials each year and people tend to hold on to gravestones as they walk through the churchyard which makes them more unstable.”
Mr Story said up to now no-one had been injured by the gravestones.