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Inveraray Jail


Inveraray Jail is an award-winning “living” museum. In the 18th century, Inveraray was the main town in Argyll so it was home to the region’s courthouse and jail. The jail closed in 1889, not because everyone became law-abiding, but because the convicts were now being imprisoned in Glasgow.

Inveraray Jail uses actors and life-size models to recreate the scenes of a 19th-century courthouse and prison. You can witness a trial taking place and then see the living conditions and punishments that prisoners had to endure. You can even experience some of the punishments firsthand and realize just how easy we have it these days.

The exhibition starts with some examples of the punishments that were given to "criminals" prior to the practice of locking them up in prison. Some of these punishments were really quite barbaric and seem rather extreme relative to the crime. Hot pokers through tongues, ears nailed to posts, hands chopped off, legs crushed between planks... it makes you wince!

After the exhibition on Crime and Punishment, you enter the courtroom and it is momentarily hard to figure out who are the visitors and who are the life-size models.

From the courtroom, you descend the same steps that convicted prisoners would have followed on their way to imprisonment in the Jail. Along the way, you might be escorted by the very convincing Prison Wardens who may also take the opportunity to lock you into an exercise cell.

The prison cells are housed in 2 buildings: an older and more basic jail from 1820, and a more civilized prison block that was built in 1849. The wardens will tell you about the grim conditions in the 1820 building, and in each cell, you can read stories about the prisoners who were locked up here and the crimes that they committed. You even get to see some of them!

In the 1849 building, the cells display lots of information boards that deal with different themes of prison life. It is interesting to learn that 19th-century society seems to have been every bit as unruly as it is in the 21st century. On the top floor, there is a gallery of the last 7 prisoners to occupy the prison, a nice little "human" touch.

This is an excellent museum, well worthy of all its awards. It kept us busily occupied for 90 minutes as we became engrossed in reading through the information boards. There are lots of nice touches to the museum that make it entertaining for children, and the actors are very good at playing their parts.


Inveraray PA32 8TX

Operated by:


Opening Hours:

Jan - Dec: Open Daily from 10 am to 5 pm (last admission 4 pm)
Closed on 25th & 26th December and 1st January


Adult £ 14.95, Senior £ 12.95, Student £ 11.95, Child (5 - 16) £ 8.95, Under 5's free.




English, French, German and Dutch









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