Interment of Ashes

by Steve Pritchard-Jones

What is the interment of ashes?

Interment of ashes refers to the process where ashes are placed in a permanent resting place in the ground. These range from dedicated family plots and cemeteries to home gardens and woodland spaces.

Much like a celebrant led funeral or memorial service, there’s no right or wrong way. You may hold a formal service led by a celebrant with friends and family, or just a quiet small informal get-together. This service doesn’t normally take place at the same time as the funeral, and it’s sometimes appropriate to have a separate interment ceremony months or years later. It’s the family’s personal choice.

An interment of ashes ceremony is a beautiful ceremony and can provide families and friends with the opportunity to say final goodbyes and condolences to their loved ones. 

It’s also somewhere the family can visit. 

Who officiates at the ceremony?

It depends on where you choose to intern the ashes. If on church land, you will need to speak to the minister who will most certainly wish to conduct a service. However, the content of any service can be a matter of negotiation.

If you choose a local authority cemetery or natural burial ground, you will need to book a celebrant to conduct the service for you (or you may be able to do it yourself). 

UK Interment law? 

Burying ashes is very common and straightforward. When ashes are buried in one place in a container, the guidelines are the same as those for the burial of a body but with fewer rules around grave placement and depth.

There is a little bit of paperwork involved: the person responsible for the burial needs to obtain a Certificate of Authority for Burial from a registry office and will then need to return the slip at the bottom of the form to the registrar within four days.

Once the burial has been registered, an exhumation licence will be required if the ashes are to be moved.

If you’re burying ashes in a churchyard or cemetery, you’ll also need to buy the “exclusive right of burial” for the plot. 

If you’re planning on burying ashes on private land, you’ll also need the landowner’s permission before you go ahead with the ceremony. If there is property on the land, the owner should check the

title deeds to make sure there aren’t any covenants that might restrict the burial of ashes. A record should also be kept with the deeds.

How deep are cremated ashes buried? 

There are no specific rules about this, but it’s a good idea to bury them at least a metre deep.

What kind of urn do you need? 

If you think you might need to move the ashes, later on, a waterproof container may be best. However, if not, consider a biodegradable urn – these can be made of paper, cardboard, sand and even salt, among other things.

Where can an interment of ashes take place?

Churchyards and church cemeteries

If you’d like to host an interment of ashes service in a churchyard or church cemetery, you’ll need to contact your preferred cemetery to discuss any burial guidelines or applications they may require.

Private land

Families will want to bury their loved one’s ashes in a memorable location, such as a garden or farmland. As I mentioned above permission must be sought.

Burying ashes at home can be a very affordable & personal alternative to a traditional funeral especially if families choose a direct cremation without a funeral.

Visit www.pjtopnote.co.uk/blog/ for more information about direct cremations.

Woodlands and forests

As with private land and gardens, the interment of ashes in a public space such as a woodland or forest will require permission from the landowner. Several woodland burial sites have been established across the UK and this allows families to arrange an eco-friendly interment of ashes for their loved ones. With a focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly practices, many woodland burial sites will prefer the use of fresh flowers, stones, or trees as burial site markers over artificial flowers and headstones.


A columbarium is an above-ground, physical structure (such as a wall, room or building) where cremation urns are kept. In the UK, columbariums can often be found in churches or on crematorium land. Columbariums are ideal for those who wish to create a permanent place where people can pay their respects.

Example Interment of Ashes Order of Service



Poem, story, reading or song

Eulogy (focusing on the achievements of the deceased – their loves, pleasures, the meaning of their life etc)

Interment of the ashes 

Symbolic actions – shaking hands, planting a flower or a tree. light a candle, scatter seeds etc

Prayer or reflection time

Final words of goodbye

Alternatives to interment of ashes

Scattering your loved one’s ashes: For some, scattering the ashes of their loved one in a sentimental or memorable location may be preferred over interment. In the UK, there are no explicit laws against scattering ashes, however, you may need permission should you wish to do so on private land or in public spaces. Visit www.pjtopnote.co.uk/blog/ for further information about the scattering of ashes.

Using ashes as a keepsake in glassware, necklaces, earrings, and cufflinks is becoming more and more popular.

For help and advice, or to book a free consultation please contact me either by telephone: 07988 626 583 or email: steve@pjtopnote.co.uk


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Steve Pritchard-Jones

Steve Pritchard-Jones

I am an independent civil celebrant conducting weddings, celebration of life/funerals, commitment, civil partnership, renewal of vows, adoption welcoming, naming, pet funerals, internment or scatter of ashes, memorials service, and even divorce ceremonies in Shropshire, West Midlands, Mid and North Wales, Derbyshire, Staffordshire & throughout the UK.