Smyllum Park orphanageImage copyright Lanark Museum
Image caption Smyllum Park orphanage closed in 1981 and the building was sold to developers

The order of nuns which ran a Lanarkshire orphanage where more than 400 children died want to sell the land around it for £6m.

They hope to sell 40 hectares of land around the former Smyllum Park home in Lanark.

But they are facing mounting calls for a memorial to the children who are believed to be buried in a mass grave nearby.

The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul have not commented.

An investigation by File on 4 in conjunction with the Sunday Post newspaper found that at least 400 children are buried in a section of St Mary’s Cemetery in Lanark.

Most of the children died of natural causes between 1870 and 1930.

The orphanage closed in 1981 and the Daughters of Charity sold the building to developers who turned it into three bedroom flats.

The Sunday Post reported that the order has now set up a property firm to handle the sale of the land around the building.

Mark McDonald, Scotland’s childcare and early years, is among a number of leading politicians who have backed calls for a memorial.

Death records indicate that many of the children died from diseases common at the time, such as TB, pneumonia and pleurisy.

A third of those who died were aged five or younger and just 24 were aged older than 15.

The File on 4 investigation also uncovered evidence of beatings, punches, public humiliations and psychological abuse at the home.

What happened at Smyllum is one of the topics that the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is examining.

Two representatives of the Daughters of Charity gave evidence to the inquiry this summer in which they said they could find no records of any abuse taking place.

They have not replied to requests to comment on the land sale.

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