1) Timbers used in the construction of water defences.

I find no mention of this rare word in standard works of reference. Salzman could offer no meaning but quoted two examples, one in 1318 when howetrys were used to repair a weir in Nottingham and the other in 1377 when uno grosso houuetre was a major timber in a dam in York. Similarly, in 1399-1400 the expenditure on repairs to the Leeds mill dam included money for howetrees in the timber requirements. it is clear that ‘howe trees’ were timbers used in the construction of water defences, possibly evidence for 'three-dimensional timber-framing', as suggested by McDonnel and others, but their exact function remains uncertain. If one holtre forfeited by a Yeadon tenant in 1403 shares the same origin they may have been hollowed or grooved beams but just how they were used has not been explained. That is not the sum total of the evidence. In 1483, the townsmen of Selby faced the possibility that the Ouse might overflow its banks, and repairs were called for. Their request for action includes the following statement: the ground gos away and ... with owt it be amendyd is lyke to mescheffe all the gates of Owsgate & all the howynge that bondys of the watter ... we desyer that my Lord ... wald gyff us tymber that we may mayke a comyne seghe . The exact meaning here may be unclear but ‘the howynge’ seems certain to refer to the river defences and I suspect that ‘seghe’ should be ‘soghe’, that is a sough or drain. This was evidently seen as a solution to the problem. In 1612-16, the timber for a mill in Holmfirth listed soyle trees and hovetwood. Two additional references suggest that ‘howing’ was work done by carpenters: 1520 Item pro di. thowsand howeyg nales [howeyng?] 3˝d, Ripon

1613-4 my working toles, half my armesaw ... my thwartsaw, my handsaw ... two howing axes, one hatchet, Hampsthwaite but note in the inventory of a blacksmith: 1543 Item ij howe yrons, Ripley.

spellings hole-tree
dates 1318 1377 1399-1400 1403 1483 1520 1543 1612-1616 1613-1614

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