A FATHER and son have spoken of their shock at discovering gravestones had been used as flood defences while out walking along the Portchester shore.
Peter Bartell and Alex Blake-Bartell were visiting Peter’s elderly mother in Paulsgrove over Christmas when they decided to walk off their Christmas dinner.
They were surprised to see headstones along the Portchester shore path in between Mother Kelly’s restaurant in Southampton Road, and Port Solent.
Mr Bartell, from Newquay, Cornwall, said: ‘My son and I came across some loose flagstones and we noticed that one of them was clearly a gravestone.
‘My son and I put it under the bench to move it out of sight.
‘In my opinion, there is more of them. They have not used one, they have obviously used several, a job lot, which the sea has washed up and uncovered.
‘It was old, but only 50 to 100 years, there could well be living relatives around.’
Mr Blake-Bartell, 29, from Marlborough, Wiltshire, said: ‘It is someone’s gravestone.
‘They had been upturned and we could clearly see the inscription, with the name and date.
‘It is disrespectful. Some of the others had been broken up, but one was clearly on display.
‘We moved it out of respect, so as not to upset anyone else.’
Paulsgrove ward councillor Cllr Jim Patey said the stones could have been part of the ferryport development, which happened in the 1970s.
Cllr Patey said: ‘I’ll be getting on to the council to make sure someone goes down there to remove anything that may cause offence.
‘It is a matter of respect for the dead and a question of manners.’
Martin Lavers, assistant head of environment at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘We have no record of when the broken headstones were used as part of the flood defence but believe it would have been over 50 years ago.
‘The bad weather has exposed engraving on some stones and we understand that some people may find this upsetting.
‘In the short term, we will be securing them back in place but going forward, with the help of experts, we will try and establish where the gravestones have come from while we consider our options.’