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
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).
^ back to the top