Monday, December 20, 2021

Keep re-inscribing the old stories – visiting the first stone restored by 'Old Mortality'

Back in September and October when filming in Scotland I visited the beautiful Glen Trool valley in Galloway Forest Park where, in 1685, six Covenanter men were murdered by the state for holding an unauthorised prayer meeting. The location of their killing and burial is at Caldons, on the edge of the loch. It wasn't well signposted and it took a few wrong turns before I found it. The stone which is there today is a recent replacement, within a protective walled enclosure – the original stone is in nearby Newton Stewart Museum (the stone had reportedly been vandalised in the 1980s, and so was taken away for safe keeping). Here is a pic of it when it was still at Caldons –

Why go? Well, Caldons was the very first Covenanter stone to be re-inscribed by famous stonemason Robert Patterson (1715–1801), who was also known as 'Old Mortality'. He spent much of his life travelling around Scotland to re-inscribe the weathered, eroded inscriptions of Covenanter gravestones, for fear that the stories would be lost forever. In 1816 Sir Walter Scott even wrote a novel about him, of the same name. Scott mined numerous classic sources to construct the storyline.

Keep re-inscribing the old stories. As Plato once said, "Those who tell the stories rule society".