Balmaclellan’s ‘Old Mortality’ Statue Is Being Repaired

Balmaclellan’s ‘Old Mortality’ statue is a landmark for the Glenkens and surrounding area. Robert Paterson was a stonemason who spent the last 40 years of his life searching for unmarked Covenanter Graves and carving their tombstones for posterity. His work was immortalised in Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Old Mortality’. The statues of Robert and his horse were carved in 1840, and re-sited in the village in 2000. They will now undergo a full restoration, which will secure them for the next generation. Restorers are on site over the next fortnight and in an open session on 5th of July, between 2-4pm, will be showing everyone the techniques used.


The restoration project has been driven by local residents, supported by the Balmaclellan Community Council. The work is being undertaken by Graciela Ainsworth Sculpture Conservation Company, 60% funded by Blackcraig Wind Farm Community Fund, administered by Foundation Scotland and the remainder by a contribution from the Galloway Glens Scheme.


The work is expected to take approximately two weeks, with the dedicated open-to-the-public information session on 5th of July, between 2-4pm for anyone interested in the techniques being used and considerations needed when approaching a restoration of this type.


Local Resident Zoe Davidson has spearheaded the work to get the statue restored. Zoe said:

We are so grateful for this funding which has allowed us to save Old Mortality. Unfortunately in recent years the sculpture has become eroded to the point where Old Mortality’s face has all but disappeared. He and his horse will be getting a full restoration including rebuilding his
missing nose. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of local residents on the 5th July, and learning how the conservators go about saving a sandstone sculpture like this.


Martin Warnock, Chairman of Balmaclellan Community Council, added:

“We are all looking forward to seeing the restoration and transformation of ‘Old Mortality’ and to show it off to everyone that visits our village.”


The Glenkens & District Trust, supported by Foundation Scotland, allocates community benefit funding from the Blackcraig Windfarm, located between Balmaclellan and Corsock. Glenkens & District Trust Chair, Fiona Smith, said:

“The Trustees of the Glenkens & District Trust were keen to support the Old Mortality Statue restoration project, recognising its importance as a local landmark and a window into our covenanting history.”


The Galloway Glens Contribution was through the Scheme’s ‘Hands on Heritage’ project. McNabb Laurie, Galloway Glens Team Leader, said:

“We are delighted to be supporting this with a portion of our National Lottery Heritage Fund grant. The public information session will lift the lid on the science and art that go into the process of looking after and restoring a sculpture like this. We will be there on the 5th and if you can, do stop by!”


The Galloway Glens Scheme is a 5-year project based in the Stewartry region of Dumfries and Galloway. An initiative of Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Environment Team, it is funded by a range of partners including the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Galloway Glens Scheme aims to connect people to their heritage and to support modern rural communities. www.gallowayglens.org

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