Consultation on future of Edinburgh's Greyfriars Kirkyard to be held amid damage fears

The world-famous graveyard is popular with Harry Potter fans.
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Edinburgh city council has asked the public to help decide the future of Greyfriars Kirkyard.

The capital’s world-famous graveyard has seen a surge in visitors in recent years, due to an explosion in the popularity of ghost hunting TV shows and the arrival of Harry Potter tours.

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It suffered 'significant erosion' on the grounds around Tom Riddell (Tom Riddle) grave after being inundated with hundreds of thousands of fans.

The site has suffered persistent vandalism over the years with a large number of old headstones and memorials being cleared from the kirkyard.

The council took to social media in 2020 saying "It’s great the cemetery is so popular, so we are looking at solutions".

Chiefs said at the time they would organise repair work to maintain the area and urged people to take care when visiting the historic cemetery.

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A consultation was launched with tour operators in July 2023 to create a conservation management plan. But the council is now revisiting the future of the site again and seeking views of residents.

Greyfriars Kirkyard consultation as public views sought on the world-famous sites future.Greyfriars Kirkyard consultation as public views sought on the world-famous sites future.
Greyfriars Kirkyard consultation as public views sought on the world-famous sites future.

Sharing a survey the council said: "Greyfriars Kirkyard is located within the Edinburgh World Heritage Site. It is world famous and loved by Edinburgh residents and visitors alike. However, it is becoming increasingly complex to balance its roles as a place of burial, as a historic site, local greenspace, educational resource, popular tourist attraction and place of faith and spiritual contemplation. Recognising the need for a new strategy, Edinburgh World Heritage and the City of Edinburgh Council commissioned Kirkyard Consulting to develop a new graveyard Conservation Management Plan. This plan will identify the variety of interests, associations and values different people place on Greyfriars Kirkyard, the risks and issues facing the graveyard today and outline a plan to best care for this site."

Responding to the post locals had mixed views, with many saying it should be preserved.

One said: "It's historic clean it up and leave it well alone.Don't build flats on it."

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Another said: "The kirkyard should be looked after, and preserved."

One local said: "It’s new people in charge at the council. You can’t blame them for past mistakes. At least things are actually getting fixed now."

A statue of Greyfriars Bobby sits outside the graveyard. The legend of Greyfriars Bobby dates back to the late 19th Century. The Skye terrier is said to have kept a constant guard over the grave of its owner John Gray, also known as Auld Jock, in Greyfriars Kirkyard for 14 years.

The consultation closes on April, 15.

Edinburgh council has been contacted for comment.

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