Burial Grounds Search.

The Scottish antiquary, or, Northern notes & queries Volume 2


Interesting Discovery of Sculptured Stones. — [The following note is copied from the columns of the Dundee Advertiser by the permission of the Editor, who has kindly lent the blocks which illustrate it. — Ed.] Yesterday discoveries of a character of some interest to antiquarians were made in Dundee. While workmen were preparing the trench for the culvert for the electric lighting mains at the North-West Corner of the Howff Burying-Ground, in Meadowside, they came upon a stone about four feet from the surface. On removing it the stone was found to be beautifully sculptured. The attention of gentlemen interested in such matters was called to the discovery, and after examination they came to the conclusion that the stone formed the centre portion of a Gothic window, showing the spring of the arches.
The base from which the arches spring is elaborately carved with representations of what appear to be flowers and leaves in the form of a cornucopia. The stone is about 13 inches high, 9 inches on the face, which gradually widens out to 15 inches, and has a depth of 18 inches. The second discovery was made in Couttie's Wynd and Nethergate, where operations have been started for remodelling the basement of a tenement there which has been secured by Mr. William Millar, grocer, Commercial Street. At this place some very old buildings stand, and
while workmen were demolishing part of a wall they pulled out, among other stones, one which, from the fine carving displayed on it, at once attracted their attention. Like the stone found at Meadowside, it also appears to be part of a Gothic window, and seems to have been the rest from which the arches of the window sprang. The carving work, which, however, has been somewhat injured by the stone having been built into the wall, is in the form of a head. The mouldings of both stones are almost identical, and they were doubtless part of the same class of structure. This stone varies from 12 inches to 24 inches wide, 19 inches from back to front, and the mouldings on it were of a very deep and rich character. The discoveries were reported to the Burgh Engineer, and the stones have meantime been placed in the basement of the Old Steeple.

Sketch of two of the fragments.

On 21st September we recorded the discovery of two sculptured stones in Dundee — one of them having been found near the north-west corner of the Howff while the trench was being dug for the electric lighting connections, and the other discovered in a building in Couttie's Wynd.
Yesterday morning another stone similar in appearance to these was found in Barrack Street, at the north-east corner of Messrs. Don, Buist and Co.'s premises, while the workmen were proceeding with the operations for
electric lighting. Like the others, this has been the springing-stone at the pier between two Gothic arches. The mouldings are as sharp as though fresh from the chisel. Below the entablature a well-carved figure of a winged cherub is still in a good state of preservation. As the back of the stone has been dressed and finished, it is probable that this stone shows the full thickness of the wall — about 18 inches. It is not likely, therefore,
that these three stones formed part of any very large structure. The style of the carving belongs to the close of the fifteenth century, — certainly not earlier. Taking into account the fact that two of these stones have been
found in the immediate vicinity of the Howff, it is not unreasonable to suppose that they may have formed parts of the mausoleum of the Earls of Crawford, which stood in the garden of the Franciscan Monastery, granted to the town as a burying-place by Queen Mary. The exact date of the erection of this mausoleum is not recorded, but there is documentary evidence that Earl John, who was slain at Flodden, and his uncle and successor. Earl Alexander, who died in 15 17, were both interred within its walls. The latter was Provost of Dundee in 1513. The fragments that have been discovered do not afford sufficient evidence to determine definitely to what building they belonged.