The Howff, Meadowside, Dundee. This was originally the site of a Greyfriars' Monastery, but Mary Queen of Scots granted it to the town for use as a burial ground in 1564. The signboard here tells us that it came to be known as the Howff (meaning "Meeting Place") because it was used as a trading floor until the autumn of 1776. Its important collection of centuries-old tombstones has earned it a Category A listing. The last burials here were in 1857 (Gifford 98), so these include Victorian tombstones too. They are generally more interesting for their inscriptions than for their forms. The one shown above, for example, is substantial and dignified, but carries a simple wreath motif. It was put up after the death Dundee merchant James Soot's baby daughter Margaret, who died at the age of six months on 19 April 1844. Also listed on the inscription are James's father, a merchant of the same name who died in 1836; his mother Margaret, who had died earlier, in 1823; and their little son (i.e. James's brother) Edward, who died in infancy as well. The size of the monument suggests that James was a merchant of some standing.

Left: The entrance to the cemetery. Right: The large monument to James Doig, close by it.

James Doig was another prominent Dundee resident who lived into the early Victorian period — this time a manufacturer, who died in 1850. Family members included in the inscription, who predeceased him, are his infant son William who died in 1820; his twelve-year-old daughter Margaret who died in 1837; and his ten-year-old daughter Ann who died in 1844. It seems that success in trade or manufacturing did not avail against the toll of child mortality in those days.

Text and photographs by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite it in a print document. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]


Gifford, John. Dundee and Angus. The Buildings of Scotland series. New York and London: Yale University Press, 2012.

Last modified 1 December 2016