Hundreds of orphanage children ‘buried in Lanark mass grave’

Smyllum Park orphanage and, inset, the memorial. Pictures: Johnston Press
Smyllum Park orphanage and, inset, the memorial. Pictures: Johnston Press
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The bodies of hundreds of children who died at an orphanage run by nuns are believed to be buried in a mass grave, an investigation by the BBC and Sunday Post has uncovered.

At least 400 children from Smyllum Park Orphanage in Lanark are thought to be buried in an unmarked grave at the town’s St Mary’s Cemetery, research by the paper and the broadcaster’s File On 4 programme indicates.

More than 4,000 children passed through Smyllum Park. Picture: Contributed

More than 4,000 children passed through Smyllum Park. Picture: Contributed

The orphanage, run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, was home to more than 10,000 children between opening in 1864 and closing in 1981.

READ MORE - Nuns have no evidence of abuse at Smyllum orphanage

Former First Minister Jack McConnell told the Sunday Post: “It is heartbreaking to discover so many children may have been buried in these unmarked graves.

“After so many years of silence, we must now know the truth of what happened here.”

While First Minister, in 2004, Mr McConnell made a formal apology at Holyrood to victims of care home abuse.

READ MORE - Forgotten orphans of Smyllum laid to rest by nuns in unmarked graves

Smyllum Park Orphanage is one of the institutions being examined by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry into historical allegations of the abuse of children in care.

Representatives of The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul gave evidence to the inquiry in June and said they could find no evidence of abuse.

The next phase of the inquiry hearings will start in November with a ‘particular focus’ on Smyllum Park and another home run by the same religious order, Bellevue House in Rutherglen, the inquiry has said.

The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul told the Sunday Post in a statement: “We are core participants in the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and are co-operating fully with that inquiry.

“We remain of the view that this inquiry is the most appropriate forum for such investigations.

READ MORE - Memorial to the lost children of town’s orphanage

“Given the ongoing work of the inquiry we do not wish to provide any interviews.

“We wish to again make clear that, as Daughters of Charity, our values are totally against any form of abuse and thus, we offer our most sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered any form of abuse whilst in our care.”