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The Character Statues

Old Mortality

Found on the upper tier of the North East Buttress of the Scott Monument, Old Mortality, the pious enthusiast, Robert Paterson, is depicted standing at the foot of a grave. He was a real life character who tended Covenanters' gravestones.

Scott used the historical figure of Robert Paterson (1715 to 1801) as the ostensible source of his novel about the Covenanters. Paterson "left his house, his home, and his kindred, and wandered about until the day of his death" repairing the graves of the Covenanter martyrs, "cleaning the moss from the grey stones, renewing with his chisel the half-defaced inscriptions, and repairing the emblems of death with which these simple monuments are usually adorned".

But Scott's own political sympathies meant that, whatever respect he showed for Old Mortality's dedication to the martyrs' memory, he was "far from adopting either his style, his opinions, or even his facts, so far as they appear to have been distorted by party prejudice".

About the Sculptor

Andrew Currie (1813 to 1891)

Currie was born in Ettrick Forest. The son of a farmer, he abandoned an apprenticeship at Chatham dockyard to become a self-taught sculptor.

Other works include the Ettrick Monument at St. Mary’s Loch (1860),the Bruce statue at Stirling Castle and a wooden figure of Thomas the Rhymer now at Methven House. A sandstone figure of ‘ Old Mortality’ was housed in an octagonal temple in Dumfries. The City Art Centre, Edinburgh has a marble statue of an unknown girl holding flowers (1882).

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