A LOCAL historian has hit out after the gravestone of a celebrated author is among the casualties of ongoing safety testing at a Selkirk cemetery.

As part of a region-wide move to make cemeteries safer contractors have been carrying out stability tests on gravestones at Brierylaw.

There was outrage last year when more than 700 headstones were either laid flat or 'socketed' in Peebles.

Although not as many stones have been deemed unsafe at the Selkirk cemetery, the dismantling of a famed author's memorial has angered some.

A stone cross which marked the grave of historian and author Thomas Craig-Brown was dismantled last week.

Local historian Dougie Purves, who funded restoration of the gravestone a decade ago, told us: "The stone was cleaned up not that long ago and was in good condition, yet it has been pulled to bits and left lying on the grass.

"Thomas Craig-Brown is an important part of Selkirk's history.

"There was no warning that these people were coming to test the gravestones.

"What was a nice cemetery for loved ones to visit now looks like a site of devastation."

Thomas Craig-Brown moved to Selkirk from his native Galashiels at the age of 24.

He was the proprietor of the Border Advertiser newspaper and set up a wool spinning business with William Brydone - building Yarrow Mill in 1868.

But Craig-Brown is best known for his authoritative The History of Selkirkshire, which was published in 1886.

The book, which was presented to Queen Victoria in the same year, has become an important source for many modern historians and writers.

Contractors have tested around 17,500 gravestones across 18 cemeteries during the past year.

And some of the 'socketing' has caused upset with families.

In Peebles many stones which had been 'made safe' are memorials to babies and soldiers killed in the wars.

But Scottish Borders Council maintains that it has a responsibility to keep all graveyards safe for visitors.

Testing was recently completed at Weirhill in Melrose and Bowden.

And once contractors have completed their work at Selkirk they will move onto Ettrick, Kirkhope, Stow and Old Channelkirk graveyards.

A spokesman for Scottish Borders Council said: "The testing is carried out by qualified staff and is undertaken with due respect and only where absolutely necessary.

"The testing begins with a visual inspection to check the general condition of the memorial which aims to identify any obvious signs of damage, wear and tear or lean.

"It also includes an assessment of the foundation, where visible, and the surrounding area such as tree roots and steepness of the ground.

"Once the visual inspection has been completed, a physical assessment is undertaken via a hand pressure test.

"If a headstone is deemed unsafe, staff will aim to socket the memorial, which means it is kept upright with a section being dug into the ground at a lower height. This ensures the majority of the inscription is still visible for families and visitors to read."