Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Western Scotland

*Western Scotland. The main backdrop of the novel. For Scott, this region of Scotland was the geographical heart of the radical Covenanter tradition in Scottish history, and he was intensely interested in and deeply knowledgeable about this area, its people, and its history. Most of the places in the novel illuminate aspects of western Scotland and of the Covenanter rebellion which grew out of the west country of Scotland and which tore the country apart in 1679. On a more specifically symbolic level, Scott describes western Scotland as divided between bleak and empty moorland to the north and a fertile and richly productive valley to the south. For Scott, these two areas of western Scotland symbolize the fanaticism and violent division of the Scottish past and the order and rationality of Scotland’s future in the eighteenth century. The novel is about the place where these two forces clash at the end of the seventeenth century.


Tillietudlem (TIHL-ee-TUHD-lehm). Ancient Scottish castle characterized by its great central tower and sturdy battlements that is the home of the Bellendens. Scott based Tillietudlem mainly on his firsthand knowledge of the ruined castle of Craignethan. Although Tillietudlem is itself fictional, the popularity of Scott’s novel was so great that the Caledonian Railway established a station called Tillietudlem in the 1860’s to accommodate those passengers who insisted on seeing the “real” Tillietudlem. In the novel itself, the castle is in part a symbol of the deeply felt Royalist faith of the Bellenden family. For Lady Bellenden, Tillietudlem is a holy place because Charles II once had breakfast there....

(The entire section is 704 words.)

Old Mortality Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Barrett, Deborah J. “Balfour of Burley: The Evil Energy in Scott’s Old Mortality.” Studies in Scottish Literature 17 (1982): 248-253. Analyzes the character in the novel who, more than any other, fails to affirm a positive code of conduct.

Dickson, Beth. “Sir Walter Scott and the Limits of Toleration.” Scottish Literary Journal 18, no. 2 (November, 1991): 46-62. Argues that although Scott struggles to understand the Cameronians, it is clear throughout that he also disapproves of them and does not regret their passing.

Fleischner, Jennifer B. “Class, Character and Landscape in Old Mortality.” Scottish Literary Journal 9, no. 2 (December, 1982): 21-36. Landscape, a prominent element in many of Scott’s novels, is often overlooked. Sees landscape in relation to the social and moral standing of major characters.

Humma, John B. “The Narrative Framing Apparatus of Scott’s Old Mortality.” Studies in the Novel 12, no. 4 (Winter, 1980): 301-315. Explores the problem of landlord, Pattieson, Cleishbotham, and editors as commentators upon the narrative.

Whitmore, Daniel. “Bibliolatry and the Rule of the World: A Study of Scott’s Old Mortality.” Philological Quarterly 65, no. 2 (Spring, 1986): 243-262. Bibliolatry is excessive veneration of the Bible, a term the Cameronians would have found objectionable in its presumption. Illuminates the clash within the novel between church and state.