Typical hazards

Typical hazards you might encounter at a natural burial ground are:

  • Uneven ground,
  • muddy conditions,
  • weather,
  • open grave excavation,
  • vehicle movements,
  • and animal droppings.

People need to be aware of these hazards in case they trip, slip or fall or contaminate food.

Coffin bearers

Those bearing the coffin need to take particular care and should be shown how to carry the coffin. Our Guidelines for Bearers offers practical advice and guidance. We always recommend that the coffin is carried ‘under-arm’ or low. This is easier, more befitting of a natural burial ground and is less hazardous. If you have engaged a Funeral Director, they will supervise the funeral and train any inexperienced bearers.


If picnicking at the burial ground be aware that the land is used as pasture and that while sheep are grazing (and for about three weeks afterwards) coming into contact with sheep droppings on footwear can be unavoidable.

Fences, gates, stiles and seating can also become contaminated with animal droppings which may contain E. coli O157. To be a risk, the E. coli O157 has to be swallowed from contact with hands, contaminated food or contaminated water. However, even tiny amounts of E. coli O157 can be a severe risk. Before refreshments, drinking or smoking, please ask people to thoroughly wash their hands (or use hand sanitiser gel if picnicking).

Ground conditions

Please visit beforehand to assess conditions and to discuss your proposals and any special requirements with the custodian.

Make sure to ask the mourners to wear stout footwear and clothing that’s appropriate for the weather.

Recommend those who are frail, elderly or on medication to take medical advice before coming in case the weather, the terrain or stress is too much for them.

First aid

It is a good idea to ask someone to take charge of first-aid arrangements, providing a first aid box, and to charge up and bring a mobile phone, a warm blanket.

Supervise children

Ensure adequate supervision of children, particularly those under 5 years of age.