Boduan Sanctuary: A Natural Burial Ground in North Wales

Early in August 2022, we were privileged to be asked to undertake a natural burial at Boduan Sanctuary based in Pwllheli, North Wales.

This blog will give you an overview of what to expect with a natural burial at Boduan Sanctuary and our experience within the grounds.

Eternal Forest Natural Burial Ground, Pwllheli
A natural burial ground based in North Wales

Where is Boduan Sanctuary?

The natural burial site at Boduan, on the beautiful Llyn Peninsula near Pwllheli, is the only place in North Wales where people and their pets can be buried in established woodland.

The Eternal Forest Trust is a Registered Charity that owns Boduan Sanctuary.

What makes Boduan Sanctuary special for funerals?

Boduan Sanctuary is a 7.5 acre mixed bluebell wood bordering the B4354. It is a beautiful peaceful place with a stream running down one border. The wood is maintained using entirely organic methods and this is rewarded with increasing birdsong and rich biodiversity.

Upon driving through the front gate, you are immediately greeted by Baskerville, the resident dog. He barks to let his owners know that there are guests arriving. I parked up, in the small carpark that is surrounded by woodland. There are no perfectly manicured walkways or tarmac pathways here, and that is the really beauty of it. It feels like you have stumbled across a hidden gem.

Tom Owen and Son at Boduan Sanctuary
Tom Owen and Son at Boduan Sanctuary

Arriving early enough to explore the wood, before any of the funeral guests arrived, the ground was slightly damp underfoot, from the rain the previous evening, but the skies were blue and clear. There was nothing to hear except the birdsong. There is no passing traffic noise. Markers along the path indicate various zones, and provide a guide to finding the plot.

A volunteer greets me cheerfully, shovelling mulch and bark into a wheelbarrow. He was going to prepare the entrance to the plot so it didn't get too muddy, before heading to the stream to clean any debris away. You get a real sense that he loves volunteering here.

I sat, for a moment, to take in my surroundings. A robin joined me. An overwhelming sense of peace was present, no uniformed headstones or worries that the next funeral will be arriving or leaving shortly.

Can you choose your own funeral plot at Boduan Sanctuary?

You can choose the place in the Boduan Sanctuary where you or your family members want to be buried. The Eternal Forest Trust undertake detailed mapping to ensure that the plot will remain dedicated to the grave owners.

Boduan Sanctuary
Grave ready at the natural burial ground in North Wales

How do we mark the grave at a natural burial?

It is a requirement of Boduan Sanctuary, that all trees and wild flowers in the wood are protected, as much as possible, against disease or cross-pollination with non-native varieties therefore they are quite strict about what can be brought into the wood.

There is a wild flower nursery located in Boduan Sanctuary Wood where you can purchase flowers and ferns. You can plant a tree on the grave, along with ferns and local wildflowers.

You can place cut flowers, as long as they contain no ribbon, plastic wrapping or oasis foam.

What isn't permitted at a natural burial ground?

In order to maintain its woodland character, the Eternal Forest Trust are keen that it must not be turned into something that looks like a cemetery or a garden. Therefore no flowers in plastic wrappers or plants from garden centres are permitted.

As a multi-faith burial site, they do not allow religious symbols that can be seen by visitors to the wood.

You cannot place brightly coloured painted stones or plaques in or around the grave. You cannot be embalmed if you wish to have a natural burial, nor can you be buried in anything but a coffin or a shroud. Coffins must be biodegradable and you can choose from cardboard, wicker, seagrass, bamboo or plain, unvarnished wood.

What facilities are available at Boduan Sanctuary?

The wood is always open to pedestrians. The gate will take wheelchairs and there are good paths through the wood. There is off-road parking and a compost toilet.

We'd recommend bringing some walking boots or wellies to change into as the ground can be quite muddy!