Saturday, 28 November 2009

'Old Mortality '

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.
Old Mortality (Old Mortality, 1816): Scott used the historical figure of Robert Paterson (1715-1801) 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".

The statue of Old Mortality is by Andrew Currie and is located on the upper tier of the North East Buttress of the monument Currie was born in Ettrick Forest in 1813, died Edinburgh 1891. 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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