A CATHEDRAL minister has been forced to speak out after selfie-snapping tourists have started interrupting funerals.
Mourners at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney, have found themselves engulfed by groups of tourists trying to take videos and selfies.
On one occasion a tourist reportedly had to be stopped from lifting the lid off a coffin as it lay in the church before a funeral got underway.
Now, the cathedral’s minister and a funeral director on the island have been forced to step in to try and prevent tourists snapping selfies during the sombre ceremonies.
Reverend Fraser McNaughton admits that he struggles to understand why it’s happening and is trying to come up with a way to solve the problem and help control the large crowds that surround the church.
He said: “I am trying to understand where this is coming from. It’s baffling to me.
“We need to try to understand it and unfortunately we will have to discuss it with our stakeholders to see what can be done.
“These are not isolated incidents and i’m certainly not condoning it.”
Funeral director, John Corse, was at a service last Friday when one visitor tried to take a selfie whilst others filmed the building from the outside.
He said: “It’s unbelievable really. The cathedral is closed during services and they put signs up but people just keep on coming past them.
“It’s very obvious there’s a funeral happening. It’s not acceptable.”
A spokeswoman for Orkney Council, who look after the cathedral, pledged to work with the reverend to help with the problem.
She said: “The cathedral is one of Orkney’s biggest tourist attractions and therefore information about the cathedral is sent to tour operators and guides ahead of the main tourist season.
“Included in this is advice to remind visitors that this is a working church and that it is important that events such as weddings and funerals can take place without interruption.
“We are taking the concerns reported on Friday very seriously and will be in discussion with all involved in the running of the cathedral to see if any additional measures are required.”
The cathedral is one of the most famous landmarks on the islands but is also a fully-functioning church which regularly holds weddings and funerals.
Its doors are locked whilst services take place but mourners are regularly faced with a crowd of snap-happy tourists when they leave the building.
Incidents at the famous cathedral have coincided with an increased number of tourists to Orkney arriving on cruise ships, with an estimated 3,000 rise in footfall in recent months.
It’s thought that cultural differences may be to blame, with some tourists used to attending funerals with open caskets, which may explain why one curious visitor tried to open a coffin lid.
There is no crematorium on Orkney and the vast majority of funerals are held in churches.
St Magnus Cathedral is the most northerly cathedral in Britain and is thought to date back to 1137.