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  The Journal, September 3rd 1881

 

"THE HOWFF"

There is no spot which should be more sacred to Dundonians than the Howff. It is the only place now remaining that recalls the time when Dundee was in residence of a Hospital aristocracy. From the mural tablets, the vaults, and the sculptured sarcophagi scattered over the uneven, ill-kept ground, materials for an eassay on the manners and customs of our forefathers, gentle and simple, might be written. The mausoleum of the laneded gentlemen is found close to the tombstone of the burgess. On the one is carved the armorial bearings that tell of his decent, and on the other the implements of trade and the emblems of handicrafts that kept the town busy and prosperous. For centuries before this cemetery became public it was the burial place of the nobles of Angus. The dust of many a warrior is mingled with the soil, and we can fancy that the Friars, who till the Reformation were the curators of the ground, delighted in making this place of lordly sepulture beauteous to the eye.

 If some of these holy and humble men of heart could rise now and see how Gods Acre is treated they would rejoice that they lived in a time when the churchyard was reckoned a sacred place. The walls are decaying, the sculptured alcoves are crumbling to sand, and form a lamentable sight, with their splintered pillars, their faceless angels, their defaced escutcheons, their illegible inscriptions, and their cracked tablatures. The Blackness vault is a noisomo den, offensive alike to nose and eye. The walks are gravel less, and coated with a green slime, and the surface of the ground alternates between weedy hollows, unkempt grassy barrows, and sculptured slabs, the ornaments and lettering on which have been erased by treading. Much of the injury to the older monuments arises from their uneven position, and had this been looked to earlier some irreparable mischief might have been averted. The whole place is frousy with the relics of countless dinners partaken of in the meal hours.

The Howff and its stones, from their very antiquity, are worthy of preservation as a civic monument, and the poorest visitor ought, in its present unguarded state, to take a pride in its amenity. Can nothing be done to restore the Howff to the state of comparative decency of a few years ago ?

 

 

©Lamb collection. Reproduced courtesy of Dundee Central Library