Fairport. Fictional town on the eastern coast of Scotland that forms the novel’s central setting. Fairport is based on the real Scottish coastal town of Arbroath. Like its original, Fairport is a lively provincial mercantile town. Throughout The Antiquary, it functions not only as a setting, but also as a symbol for the energetic, if sometimes vulgar, present. In contrast to most of the novel’s main characters, the people of Fairport have little interest in the past. Their modern focus is on making money, gossip, and the threat of invasion at a time when Great Britain was locked in war with France.
St. Ruth’s Priory
St. Ruth’s Priory. Beautiful gothic ruin near Fairport and the scene of many of the novel’s most important episodes. It is here that Lovel and the Highlander Hector duel, that Dousterswivel practices his necromancy, that Sir Arthur Wardour seeks the treasure of Misticot, that the old Countess Glenallen is buried at night, and that Oldbuck explains antiquities to his friends. Although the priory is a peaceful and serene ruin, it functions as the novel’s main symbol for the past and its power. As such, it reveals and represents the antiquated Scottish Highland pride of Hector, the exploitation of the past by Dousterswivel, the aristocratic credulity toward the past of Sir Arthur, the guilty and arrogant past of Countess Glenallen, and the pedantic obsession with the trivialities of the past in Oldbuck.
Monkbarns. Home of Jonathan Oldbuck, the antiquary who gives the novel its title. Oldbuck is a kindly and generous man whose good qualities are often obscured by his crusty manner and his devotion to old books, artifacts, and antiquities in general....
(The entire section is 726 words.)