But there's nothing new in this. In the very same week, this news story surfaced in San Francisco - Tombstones from long ago surfacing on S.F. beach:
Strong winds and shifting sands have uncovered an eerie reminder of San Francisco's past: discarded gravestones and broken tomb markers used decades ago to shore up the Ocean Beach seawall.The tombstones became visible this week, including bits and pieces of marble and granite that once marked the final resting places of citizens long dead.One of them is the nearly intact marble tombstone of Delia Presby Oliver, who died at the age of 26 on Apr. 9, 1890.
Her remains were removed and reburied when San Francisco authorities closed nearly all the city cemeteries and moved the bodies to Colma in the early 20th century - part of a move to make space for the growing city. Oliver's original tombstone and thousands like it were used as landfill or in other ways throughout San Francisco.
Some were used as breakwaters. Pieces of others were used to line the gutters of Haight-Ashbury's Buena Vista Park. Some gravestones were used to build the seawall along the Great Highway. Large tombs and crypts were dumped into San Francisco Bay.
I wonder if the inscriptions on these tombstones were recorded before they were dumped?
In the UK burials often took place in churchyards, but as villages were swallowed up in urban sprawl, cemeteries were established, and many of the churchyards have been cleared of graves. One solution has been to put all the old gravestones around the walls of the churchyard. I must admit I hadn't thought of them being dumped into the sea.
I also wonder about the culture clash in South Africa. There have been some claims to land restitution on the grounds that people's ancestors are buried in such and such a place. And in the past there was a lot of resistance to people being forcibly moved in the ethnic cleansing that took place under apartheid, on the grounds that they did not want to be moved from the places where their ancestors were buried. I wonder how well the Buffalo City Municipality's plans will sit with people who see things in that light?