Up to 400 children died at a Scottish orphanage run by nuns and were buried in a single unmarked grave, new research has revealed, reports The Telegraph UK.
The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, which ran the Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanarkshire, has previously acknowledged that 158 children were buried in compartments at a nearby cemetery.
But there have long been suspicions that the real figure was far higher.
Now research carried out by BBC Radio 4's File on Four program and the Sunday Post newspaper, including a trawl of more than 15,000 official records, has revealed hundreds of children died at Smyllum - far more than the charity that ran it has admitted.
The investigation into Smyllum Park orphanage reveals 402 babies, toddlers and children died there between 1864 and when it closed in 1981.
Most of the children sent to live at the orphanage who died were buried in an unmarked mass grave at St Mary's Cemetery. Headstones mark the graves of the nuns and staff members buried nearby but no stone or memorial has ever recorded the names of the lost children.
The revelation that up to 400 youngsters - and some adults - are buried there has provoked calls for Scotland's ongoing Child Abuse Inquiry to investigate.
Former First Minister, Jack McConnell, who, on behalf of the Scottish government, apologised to victims of care home abuse in 2004, said it was shameful they were still waiting for truth and justice. He said: "It is heartbreaking to discover so many children may have been buried in these unmarked graves. After so many years of silence, we must now know the truth of what happened here."
The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul declined several requests for interview but in a statement said: "We wish to again make clear that, as Daughters of Charity, our values are totally against any form of abuse and thus, we offer our most sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered any form of abuse whilst in our care."
Bodies of 'hundreds' of children buried in mass grave at Scottish orphanage (The Telegraph UK)