Burial Grounds Search.




As it stands today I would say that the Howff is in reasonable condition for its age, some stones have weathered very well over the past 300 years and more. The cemetery second only to the Greyfriars in Edinburgh one of the finest collections of 16th and 17th century memorials in Scotland.

The Howff itself is cared for by the local council, who do an excellent job of planting the flowerbeds and keeping the grass at bay, which makes for a pleasant place to sit on a sunny afternoon in almost tranquillity, but still be only a few yards from the hustle and bustle of Reform St and Ward Rd.

The condition of the headstones themselves is a little worrying as a few are now beginning to disintegrate due to erosion. A few good frosts to freeze any water that has seeped into any cracks within the sandstone is certainly enough to make it split and have the facing sheer off in large sheets, a process called delamination as sandstone is essentially laid down in layers. I've found that some of the stones which have had any errors patched up during the time the lettering was carved, are now beginning to show due to the patching falling out.

Over the past 150 years or so there has been a few headstones gone missing, and it seems one of the main reasons for this is them sinking. During the summer months, when the sun has caused the grass to become scorched, it is possible to spot the outlines of stones which have sunk out of sight to a depth of a couple of inches or more below the surface. It is also noticed that some upright headstones have sunk quite a few inches over the years, especially if the inscriptions are compared to the survey done in the 1850's. Having memorials sinking below ground isn't necessarily a bad thing as in effect it can preserve them for future generations as they are protected from the effects of frost and rain eroding the surface.