In the Tracks of Mortality

The Life & Times Of Robert Paterson, Stonecutter, 1716-18019780955473739

Read the true story of ‘Old Mortality’, a legendary figure of south-west Scotland, in a new book by Iain Wilson, 160 pages, illustrated with 8 pages of colour images.

“An old man was seated upon the monument of the slaughtered Presbytarians… busily employed in deepening, with his chisel, the letters of the inscription…”

So wrote Sir Walter Scott in the first chapter of The Tale of Old Mortality in 1816.  In so doing, he introduced to the world the character of the old stonemason who travelled through south-west Scotland for much of the eighteenth century erecting and repairing the gravestones of the Covenanters, Protestant fundamentalists of the seventeenth century.

This book explores the origins of the story of ‘Old Mortality’, the evidence on which Scott drew for the development of his character, and the life and times of Robert Paterson, the real life individual on whom the character was based.

The result is a fascinating story of one man and his mission, and of his family, against the backdrop of a fast-evolving Scottish society – from late medieval poverty and superstition to early industrial wealth and self-confidence – at once biography, social history and detective story.

The book commemorates the tercentenary of Robert Paterson’s birth and the bicentenary of Sir Walter Scott’s novel.

‘In the Tracks of Mortality’ is available now, price £8.99 + P&P.  To order a copy, please click on the button below or, if you would like to pay by a different method, please e-mail




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