The Tolbooth

Almost lost from sight, the Tolbooth is one of Aberdeen's oldest buildings and one of the best preserved 17th century prisons in Scotland. I visited the prison a year or so ago, and I can certainly vouch for it being distinctly lacking in home comforts. Built between 1616 and 1629 the conditions were [probably] even worse than Alcatraz which I visited a few weeks ago. However I expect prisoners in the Tolbooth did not stay inside very long. The gallows was only a short walk away. Apparently the site of the gallows is marked on the pavement, though I have never been able to find it.

This area is still a centre of justice in Aberdeen as the courts are situated here today. I had the pleasure of being asked to attend as a witness on one occasion, though after several hours hanging around (sorry about the pun) the defendant plead guilty, so I was never called to give evidence.

The Tolbooth is shown in this photograph, however it was almost entirely hidden when a facade was constructed to blend the Tolbooth with the surrounding buildings. The ornate tower and clock can just be seen rising from the later frontage.

Aberdeen's 20th century prison has just been demolished and will be replaced by affordable housing. However I can't help thinking the Council missed an opportunity, it could have been opened instead as a tourist attraction.

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