Stirling Old Town Jail

A little after dawn on 11th November 1847 a pitiful parade of petty thievery was marched from the dank and dismal depths of Stirling’s Tolbooth Gaol – condemned as ‘The Worst Jail in Britain’ only a few years before – across St John Street, and into the New County Jail – better known to modern visitors as the Old Town Jail.

Each prisoner was fed – a rare luxury for those incarcerated in the Tolbooth. Each convict was assigned their own cell, according to William Brebner’s ‘Separate System’, to encourage reflection and repentance, and every effort was made to reform and rehabilitate Stirling’s rogues. A palace compared to the Tolbooth, conditions were grim by modern standards – a strict regime of solitude, labour, coarse food and discomfort. Stirling’s prison until 1888, it served as Scotland’s only Military Detention Barracks until 1935.

Join us on a journey through the grim and gruesome history of Crime and Punishment in the Royal Burgh.

Visitors can hear the histories of our places of punishment – and the bloody, bizarre and sometimes baffling tales of the Burgh’s heroes and villains. Learn about the Tolbooth’s notorious ‘Happy Hangman’, Jock Rankin, the ‘Union Martyrs’ Baird and Hardie – hanged and beheaded in 1820 for asking for the right to vote – the murderer Allan Mair, crusading prison reformer Frederick Hill….and many more!

These characters, and others, truly come to life through our highly praised performance tours, telling the story of the Old Town Jail itself. From our Observation Tower visitors can enjoy some of the best views of the historic Old Town and surrounding countryside – taking in the Tolbooth, Holy Rude Church, National Wallace Monument, Trossachs National Park and, of course, Stirling Castle…making the Old Town Jail a great place to start exploring the sights and stories of Scotland’s ancient Royal Burgh.

Tours of the attraction last 45mins to an hour
The Old Town Jail is open Summer 01 July – 09 September, Half Term 16 October – 21 October, Halloween 27 October – 28 October
£6.50 per adult / £4.50 Concession / £4.50 for kids for the full tour (under 5’s are free)
Performance tours run every 30mins from 10.15am
Included in the Stirling City Pass

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