Wednesday 18 October 2017

Hundreds of children believed to be buried in mass grave at former Catholic care home in Scotland

The investigation focused on Smyllum Park Orphanage in Lanark. Photo: PA
The investigation focused on Smyllum Park Orphanage in Lanark. Photo: PA

Rebecca Lumley

Hundreds of children are believed to be buried in a mass grave at a former Catholic care home in Scotland, new reports reveal.

At least 400 children are believed to be buried in a section of St Mary’s Cemetery, in Lanarkshire, southern Scotland. It's understood that they were residents of a care home run by Catholic nuns.

The investigation, launched by BBC News in conjunction with the Sunday Post newspaper, focused on Smyllum Park Orphanage in Lanark.

They reported that the home cared for 11,600 children between 1864 and its closure in 198, namely orphans or children from broken homes.

The burial plot was discovered by former residents of the Smyllum Park in 2003. Frank Docherty and Jim Kane made the discovery while trying to prove the presence of institutional abuse in the home.

The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, which ran the home, refused to comment on the findings reported today by the BBC and Sunday Post. They responded to the men’s’ findings in 2003 by stating that children had been buried in 158 compartments in the graveyard.

Mr Docherty and Mr Kane, both of whom died earlier this year, believed the number was significantly higher.

The investigation by File on 4, a BBC radio show, and the Sunday Post confirms their theory and indicates that at least 400 children are buried in the plot.

It revealed that a third of those buried were aged five-years-old and under, with most deaths occurring between 1870 and 1930.

Several allegations of abuse at the care home were also uncovered, including beatings, punches, public humiliations and psychological abuse.

The revelations are similar to those of the Tuam mother and baby home, where it is thought nearly 800 babies and young children died and were buried in unmarked graves between the 1920s and 1960s.

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