Natural Burial Grounds: Burial Sites reviewed

Natural burial sites

Natural Burial sites have become very popular over the last decade as more people opt for greener funerals that don’t cause environmental damage by polluting the soil.

Funerals and burials are changing rapidly as people move away from traditional burials that are seen as harmful to the environment due to the chemicals used in embalming and coffins that contain plastics or that are made from non-sustainable sources. Both cause environmental damage.

That’s why many people are opting for biodegradable coffins and shrouds and choosing natural burial grounds also called green burial grounds or woodland burials.

In this article, I will explain what Natural Burial Grounds are. Who owns natural burial sites as well as discussing whether they are a cheap option.

What Are Natural Burial Grounds?

A natural burial ground is not the same as a traditional cemetery.

You will not see large gravestones or traditional headstones marking a grave site or neatly manicured paths sprayed with chemicals around the burial area.

Many natural burial sites in the UK are actually woodland burial grounds with an emphasis on simple natural burials. They are peaceful settings full of wildlife where people opt to plant a tree or a flat stone marker to mark the gravesite instead of having a traditional headstone.

A Natural burial ground offers an alternative to the traditional cemetery. They focus on environmentally friendly, sustainable burials suitable for cremated remains and full burials using biodegradable coffins and shrouds.

Chesham Bois - a mix of formal and natural burial grounds

Traditional burial ground at Chesham Bois

Who Owns Natural Burial Grounds?

Natural burial sites in the UK that are operated on a commercial basis can be owned by private individuals, such as Atlantic Rest a natural burial ground in Cornwall.

Companies such as Sussex Woodlands Limited which owns Clayton Woods Burial Grounds in Sussex.

Local authorities such as Chesham Bois. Chesham Bois Burial Ground is operated by the parish council and it is a hybrid site, this means it is both a formal traditional cemetery where you can use non-biodegradable coffins, and erect headstones and grave ornaments.

All burial ground operators have to comply with the law on burials but they are free to choose how they run the organisation. This results in large differences in price and services offered between the sites that offer natural burials on private land.

Ownership is an important factor to consider you want to know who owns it and what will happen to the land in the future.

Many sites work alongside charitable trusts such as the Woodland Trust. These site owners plan to transfer the land to the Trust at some point in the future to guarantee the continuance of the site.

Some natural burial grounds already have trust status, again this gives a guarantee that the land will remain as a  natural burial site for years to come.

old park meadow with water view

A natural Burial ground

Are Natural Burial Grounds A Cheap Option?

Natural burials can be both a cheap option and a very expensive option. It depends on how each site is run, the ethos behind each site and their plans on how to care for the environment. Some sites can set you back 1000’s whereas others are very reasonable by comparison.

Some Natural burial sites like Clayton Wood Natural Burial Grounds in the Hassocks, West Sussex, have different types of burial grounds and offer ashes scattering in certain parts of the natural burial ground. They offer:

  • Woodland burial
  • Meadow burial
  • Waterside burial
  • Ashes scattering

Each area has a different price point, much like real estate. Single burial plots start from £1725 and go up to £4360 depending on location

A burial plot at the waterside is more expensive than other areas. Ashes plots are only sold in doubles and  start from £920 to £1465 . All plots can be reserved in advance.

In addition to the plot, there are additional costs to consider such as a memorial, grave digging, hire of the service hall.

At Clayton Wood Natural Burial Grounds all of these are extras and not included in the price of the plot.

In contrast, places like Brocklands Natural Burial Ground are very reasonable by comparison.

This is a natural burial site in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. They have a simple price structure

  • Single Plot ………………………………………….. £480
  • Ashes Plot…………………………………………… £240

A tree is included in the price as is the use of the Harvest Barn – a small quiet space for your service. Grave digging charges are extra. Generally, plots cannot be reserved in advance unless bought as a double plot or for in special circumstances such as terminal illness.

Chesham Bois has a three-tier price structure. The cheapest price is given to residents of the parish whilst non-residents from outside the area pay 3x the price for a plot and burial. They currently have no woodland plots available, they do however have plots in the formal cemetery.

As you can see there can be a big difference in the price of a natural burial plot.

Buying Environmentally Friendly Coffins and Caskets

When considering a green funeral it’s worth remembering that you will need to have an environmentally friendly coffin. These are coffins made from natural materials such as willow, seagrass, cardboard and wood. Some sites will insist on you purchasing coffins that are made from sustainable sources to ensure woodland is not damaged. You can find out more about coffins and prices here: Coffins For Natural Burials

How Do I Find Out More About Natural Burial Sites?

The Natural Death Centre has a list of natural burial sites around the UK making it easier for you to locate sites. The natural burial grounds listed will all have been accredited – this gives you some assurance that they are being run professionally.

Final Thoughts On Natural Burial Grounds

It is important to do your own research so that you can be satisfied that when you plan your green funeral it is going to match your budget as well as your values. make sure you fully understand what is included in the price.


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