Stirling Old Town Jail

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**The Stirling Old Town Jail attraction will open over Easter weekend 30 March to 2 April and this summer from  1 July to 9 September 2018**

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.

After a popular Summer last year, we are pleased to announce that the Old Town Jail will once again be accepting ‘inmates’ this year.

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. Take a look at our excellent TripAdvisor reviews.

It’s £6.50 per adult and £4.50 for kids for the full tour (under 5’s are free), perormance tours run every 30mins from 10.15am until 5.15pm daily over the summer.

And then there’s the VIEW…! 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 and newest City!

Frae a’ the bridewell cages an’ blackholes,
And officers canes wi’ halberd poles,
And frae the nine tail’d cat that opposes our souls,
Gude Lord deliver us.

Prices from £6.50


  • Disabled Access
  • Gift Shop
  • Free Parking
  • Toilets
  • Local Transport
  • Great for Families
  • Great for Couples
  • Historical
  • Top-rated

Appears in

  • Free Stirling Visitor Guide

    Founded as a Royal Burgh in 1124, Stirling offers a fascinating journey back in time for anyone with even a passing interest in Scottish history and heritage. Today, Stirling is a vibrant city, steeped in historic atmosphere yet offering a host of modern day attractions, facilities and events. A popular international university city, you’ll find plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants and a wide range of shopping, together with a wide selection of accommodation. Easily accessible by road and rail Stirling is on the doorstep of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. As well as a string of local towns and villages you’ll also be within easy reach of Edinburgh, Glasgow, St. Andrews and much of the spectacular Scottish Highlands.

    Read more »

  • Justice be Done

    A truly immersive, dramatic and engaging adventure at the Stirling Old Town Jail!

    Read more »

  • Last Limb O’ The Law

    Stirling’s Mercat Cross provides a pretty centrepiece to the historic Old Town. From the birth of the Royal Burgh in 1130, when the merchants of the town were first granted the right to hold a weekly market here, it was the centre of trade – and of public punishment. The more public the better, in fact: whippings, brandings and ‘luggings’ – where villains would be nailed through the ear to the public scales – were performed each Market Day until the 19th-century, warning the townsfolk of the harsh consequence of crimes against their neighbours.

    Read more »

  • Stirling City Pass

    2017 Stirling Summer City Pass See more and save more with our Stirling Summer city sightseeing pass (1 July – 10 September). This ticket offers FREE entry to Stirling’s top attractions and some excellent extras including fast track entry, free audio tours and over £50 in local discounts and offers. You can buy the Stirling City Pass online (see below) or at the Old Town Jail when you get here.

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  • Stirling’s Top Attractions

    With so much to see and do in Stirling it’s hard to know where to start. We’ve put together a list of our most popular Stirling attractions below. Of course – you need to explore the royal history of Stirling Castle, relive Robert the Bruce’s momentous experience at the Battle of Bannockburn Experience, or climb the iconic National Wallace Monument. However you can also see the world’s oldest football at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, explore the Medieval Old Town or hang out with the monkeys at Blair Drummond Safari Park!

    Read more »

Prices from £6.50