Wednesday, April 24, 2019

HOWF, Howff n an enclosed space, a favourite haunt, a shelter
Howf makes its first recorded appearance as the yard of the Grey Friars, granted to Dundee as a burial-ground by Queen Mary in 1564. There was an unaccountable enthusiasm for gaining unorthodox entry to the Howff. In The Dundee Burgh Records for 1565 it is “Ordainit that what person that ever beis apprehendit louping in our the dykes of the Houf sal pay ... eight shillings”, and the Burgh Laws of 1566 also express concern “Anent the houf dykes, … that na person pretend to clym the dykes of the buriall place”. Another specific application of howf is as a timber yard, a well known one being the timmer houf at Leith, also called Timber Bush. The senses most in use today relate to shelter and comfort. The Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal (1948) tells us, “The best known example of a mountain howff is the Shelter Stone of Loch Avon” and the Montrose Standard (1838) notes that accommodation was provided by “Daniel Fraser, who keeps a vagrants’ howff ... at threepence a night”. There is another howf to visit as Allan Ramsay writes in 1721: “Whan we were weary’d at the Gowff, Then Maggy Johnston’s was our Howff”.