Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Unmarked graves of Bangour Village Hospital patients

Recognition for unmarked graves of Bangour Village Hospital patients

PSYCHIATRIC patients buried in unmarked graves have received the “respect they deserved” thanks to a local woman.
Catherine Ferguson recently discovered that 566 former Bangour Village Hospital patients whose bodies were unclaimed after they died were buried in unmarked graves in three nearby cemeteries.
But thanks to Catherine’s efforts, plaques have now been placed at Ecclesmachan Cemetery, Uphall Old Cemetery and Loaninghill Cemetery.
A special service of dedication was also held at Ecclesmachan Church last week.
She said when her father died in 1980 she was surprised to be told Ecclesmachan Cemetery was full, despite seeing an open grassy area with no headstones.
And after the recent death of her brother, Catherine was told patients from Bangour Village Hospital filled the unmarked graves.
With this information she decided to go to County Buildings in Linlithgow and search through the records there.
Catherine said: “I was astounded by what I discovered, so much so that several days later I returned to County Buildings again to recheck the figures.
"It’s important to have a memorial service for people who were forgotten in life and whose bodies were unclaimed in death.”
Catherine discovered that some of the graves were over 100 years old and the first patient who died was buried in Ecclesmachan Cemetery in 1904.
The asylum at Bangour was built in the 1900s for Edinburgh’s ‘lunatic paupers’ as they were known.
After they died and if their bodies went unclaimed by family, they received a basic burial with just the hospital chaplain and a staff member present.
The patients were most likely buried without headstones due to the cost involved in erecting a gravestone.
Catherine added: “I do believe that a marker of some kind should be placed to the patients whose bodies were never claimed and were laid to rest in unmarked graves.”

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