Norway to allow columbariums after a 23-year-long ban?

GraveyardPhoto: Marco Rickhoff / Unsplash

The Norwegian government wants to allow columbariums (urn walls) in Norway. The practice has been banned for 23 years, but the need for alternatives and lack of space makes it necessary.

The Ministry of Children and Family Affairs made the proposal of reintroducing the scheme. The novelty would have to be implemented through a change in the funeral law, according to newspaper Dagen. 

In Southern Europe and South America, for example, columbariums are common, but not in Norway. In a columbarium, urns are placed in niches in a brick wall for those who have chosen cremation. 

The names of the deceased, their dates of birth, and their dates of death are stated outside the niches, as is the case with ordinary tombstones. 

Such a practice would reduce the efforts related to burial ground upkeep and would be less demanding comparing to regular burials. 

The growing need for space

The need for space is one of the reasons why the Ministry is opening up to columbariums, as calculations show that the number of dead will rise sharply in the years to come. 

Today, around 40,000 people die each year in Norway, but the numbers are expected to increase as the population ages. 

“If all those who die in 30 years are to be buried in a coffin, more space will be required than if they were to be buried in urns,” Åse Skrøvset, national advisor for burial places in the Norwegian Church, notes. 

A ban on columbariums was put in place in 1997 but did not have a retroactive effect, so Narvik in Nordland is probably the only place where columbariums are still in use.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today


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