Scattering Ashes

Our Complete Guide to Scattering Ashes

The scattering of ashes has become a much discussed topic over recent years as more and more people decide upon being cremated over that of the more traditional burial.


There may be different reasons for doing so, a cremation can cost less than a burial, the service can be the least religious if that’s a wish too.


  • It could be that not a lot of people are comfortable with having a ‘resting place’ where people can visit for long periods of time, preferring family and friends to move on.
  • Or the thought of being returned to Earth in a coffin is not so appealing.
  • In any case, once the cremation has been completed, your family are provided your ashes.

While it does seem a little at odds with the experience of someone close to you dying, a whole industry has grown and expanded to offer creative solutions for how you may scatter ashes in the UK or abroad. 

  • How these ashes might be transported legally and faster.
  • How the ashes can actually be stored or given to multiple family members.
  • It is truly extraordinary how many different ways there are now to celebrate a person’s life and grant them their wishes. Unique and wonderful scenarios such as ashes being built into a garden ornament where it can remain at the family home forever more.
  • Or launched into the skies above as a firework.
  • Is all this legal?
  • Do you have to gain permission before scattering ashes in Britain?
  • Do you need acceptance from the authorities to send ashes abroad by post?

Let’s delve into the popular and growing industry of ash scattering accessories, from miniature Viking longboats and glass jewellery to simple scatter tubes and urns.

Ash Scattering Services

Remarkably there are Ash Scattering services that aim to make it easier for you to adapt to the deceased’s wishes. 


It’s not that easy hiring boats for these types of occasions or finding a suitable sized vessel for a lake for more than a few people. 


What kind of services are available for scattering ashes?

Ash Scattering Training Courses: 


It’s not that difficult to open a scatter tube and allow ashes to be freed. 


However as with all things related to death there are ways and mannerisms to consider. 


How the bereaved should be talked to, how to organise a ceremony and how to scatter ashes in an appropriate way and according to UK law.

Making Use Of Wildlife:


Most familiar with renewal and refreshing for a new beginning, is the release of Doves. 


It’s not your every day event and it can make quite a traumatic week a more hopeful memory. 


Doves can be hired in advance with trained people to oversee release.

Without You Home & Abroad:

Some people have a sense of humour and others have that also but are really serious about wishing for their ashes to be released from the top of Kilimanjaro or from an inlet on Hawaii. 


There is an international network of people that can respond to these requests and oversee the ceremony and scattering of ashes if family are unable to do this themselves.

Specialist Ash Transportation: 

Exporting and importing a body in the form of ashes is not simply a case of phoning DHL. 


A lot of countries, like the UK, need documentation and arrangement with a Funeral Director to be able to receive ashes back on home soil. 


Use a dedicated Funeral Ashes courier company to get your loved one where they should be.

Boat Hire For Water Memorials: 


You might spend all day on the phone trying to find a Skipper to take you out to sea to spread ashes or out on a lake. 


Go direct to ash scattering planners who know of owners of boats who will readily take you aboard their vessel at short notice.


Can Human Ashes Be Scattered Anywhere?

In essence yes but only if you follow a set of guidelines from the UK’s Environment Agency.


An A to Z of these can be found below in the sections Laws and Regulations. 


Don’t be too worried if a relative has left you with the task of climbing a mountain or visiting St. James Park on the day of Trooping the Colour and scattering ashes, the laws are fair but precise.

Is It Against The Law To Scatter Ashes In A River Or The Sea?

Not entirely. The Environment Agency suggests you run a few checks within the local area before you decide to hold a memorial event to scatter ashes in public rivers or areas where other people might be. 


The Authority is most concerned with tainting the water and also harm to wildlife from any tributes or containers that might be used during the process.


The location you choose should be away from people that may be bathing or nearby such as Marines or picnic, not close to buildings and take note that ashes do travel some distance in the wind. Scattering as close to the water, and even better if within a special Urn for a river or lake, where the container is biodegradable and or will dissolve over time.


If you are unsure about a location’s suitability contact a local Environment Agency office and they will be able to assist with your plans ad may even be able to make recommendations. The sea is also under their jurisdiction but only within five miles of the coastline. Again if you feel the need to spread ashes in the sea close to a beach at peak Summer time contact them first.

Is It Illegal To Scatter Ashes On UK Land?

So far we have dealt mainly with the waterways, it may come to pass that the deceased wished to have their ashes scattered on land. There are of course unlimited locations within the British Isles and thousands of scenarios. It is key in all instances to consider the following:

Private Land:


Whether your own garden or a Stately Home that provides access now or just to you, may not always be accessible in the future. 


Consider that the memorial place may not always be available to visit for years to come or for others. 


Always gain permission if scattering ashes on private land, even if you do not plan to make the trip back.

Places Of Outstanding Beauty:


It’s fantastic to be able to scatter ashes as per the deceased’s wishes in a public park, at a theme park at famous caves or tourist spots. 


Though you need to understand others feel the same way about them too. 


There may not be privacy, may always be busy and scattering ashes and having a ceremony may be problematic for all.

Hills With Great Views: 


We’ve all heard tales from people about the world’s most beautiful places. 


How being on top of the Black Mountains for example was exhilarating and what it maybe like to have ashes released there after an arduous journey. 


One has to understand though that it can be very windy and blow in any direction at any time and also consider the local nature that is not used to substances like ashes that have so much phosphorus with.

Common Areas: 


What we all consider public land, doesn’t exactly mean we are entitled to do as we wish on it. 


The Government’s common lad policy states what is allowable with and without permission from those that control the land or oversee its usage.



Wembley Stadium? Millwall FC? Lords? The Palace of Westminster perhaps? 


All of these areas have much to think about before granting family members the ability to scatter ashes on their property. 


However, a great many sports grounds and public arenas will accept a memorial service if given enough notice and enable an area to be clear for ashes to be scattered on their grounds. 


Golf Clubs may also allow this, however they usually have strict members only policies and access may not always be available to all.

With regards burying ashes, again similar rules apply in that the landowner’s permission should be obtained if it is not public land. 


If however you wish to bury ashes in the garden of your own home, the Environment Agency would not have any issues with this whatsoever.

Do You Need Permission To Spread Ashes If You're Family?

In the United Kingdom ashes even though they are a new form, are still considered a body. 


Therefore the single permission that grants your ability to dispose of these ashes has been laid down by either the deceased naming you as next of kin and powers of an executor of the estate or simply as someone who will take care of formalities.


Otherwise a court may decide who should have control over the scattering of ashes should a dispute arise if it is not already legally recognised that Wife or Husband, parent or child has the legal right to put the person to rest by this method.

Laws & Regulations In The UK


The main regulatory body when it comes to scattering ashes in the UK is the Environment Agency, they suggest the following:


  • Upstream by at least a mile from any water intake
  • A distance away from buildings, human activity and marinas
  • Consider the environment and any tributes that may accompany the ash scattering process
  • Outside of five miles of the coast, there is no oversight
  • You may also wish to delve further into the following areas:
  • How To Transport Ashes
  • Airline Policies
  • Permission from private land owners

When Should You Scatter Ashes?

There is an attachment to funeral ashes of a deceased that is understood but not realised until the point you have them. The time to scatter ashes or a part, as per wishes or own feelings is entirely up the family members or partner of the deceased. It could be days, weeks or years, you may choose to scatter some ashes but keep most in an ornament for the garden, or lay them to rest and inter them.

What Methods Are There For Scattering Ashes?

Water Urns: There are a lot of biodegradable and instantly dissolvable containers that can be placed in the sea, on rivers and lakes. Ensuring no pollution and that the vessel only lasts a short duration or falls to the deep below.


Self Fire Fireworks: The machinations of the human mind have conjured up the ability to mix in funeral ashes with the composition of a firework. These can then be released at a night time memorial. Quite fitting for some people.

Aren't Urns A Good Place To Keep Funeral Ashes?

Absolutely. Not all ashes have to be released. There are decorative urns that you can keep in the home or lay to rest in a Church graveyard or family mausoleum. Ashes can also be separated between family members and cotained within Keepsake urns.

Are There Alternatives To Urns For Containing Ashes?

Yes, there are specific scattering ash companies that can invoke certain items and accessories that will contain the ashes of a loved one in something you can wear or place in your own home. 


These come in the form of:


  • Memorial Jewellery: Places ashes within gold, silver jewellery that can be ear rings, rings, necklaces or bracelets and pendants.

  • Memorial Glassware: From eternal candles to shapes made from glass such as coloured hearts and hand blown glass urns. All attractive and complimentary works of glassware that can contain ashes of a loved one for all time.

  • Garden Memorials: Made from concrete and other materials it is possible to built in ashes into garden centrepieces. Instead of buying a loved one underground, make instead a feature memorial in the form of Sundials, Birdbaths, Sculptures of animals or people, Planters or opt for an obvious Garden Urn.

Are There Associated Products For Ash Scattering?

Memorial ceremonies or ash scattering events are growing in popularity. 


Not merely because it’s a good way to say goodbye but releasing ashes while not a release for a person bereaved, can feel comfortable in knowing that a loved one is free. Ideas for ash scattering event accessories:


  • Farewell Flags
  • Floating Candles
  • Seed Balls
  • Message In A Bottle

What Is A 4th Ceremony Provider?

A new term to catch on has arisen out of the need to explain the numerous services and purchasable accessories that have come from the need to do more than simply bury a loved one and lay them to rest. 


A 4th Ceremony Provider, taken from 1st, Birth, 2nd Christening, 3rd Marriage and 4th Death is any company who can assist with a related service.