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Stirling Old Town Jail


Stirling Old Town Jail was built in 1847 when the old Tolbooth Jail became too overcrowded and was rated as the worst prison in Britain. Although living conditions undoubtedly improved with the new jail, the strict regime of solitude, labour, coarse food and discomfort would still have been a deterrent. The building was still in use as a military prison until 1935.

The tour of the jail is guided by an Actor who adopts the characters of various individuals from the prison's past, and they will tell you the history of the building from very different perspectives.

 The tours start with you being greeted by the rather fearsome character of Jock Rankin, chief executioner from the Old Tolbooth jail. 

After Jock, you meet Mr. Hislop, the Victorian warden of the jail. Mr. Hislop is a no-nonsense character who introduces you to your life as an inmate. You are then free to explore the prison cells, but watch out! One of the prisoners escapes! We won't tell you anymore as we don't want to spoil the surprises.

Stirling Old Town Jail was refurbished in the 1990s and some of the exhibits deal with conditions in Scotland's modern jails, but this is the less interesting aspect of the tour.

One of the advantages of visiting the Jail is the rooftop observation area where you get excellent 360-degree views over Stirling town. You can easily see across to Wallace Tower, the Ochil Hills, and the more distant mountains of the Trossachs National Park. The castle is also visible from the rooftop, but the view is partially obscured by other buildings. 

Something worth noting is the free car parking available for visitors. The fact that the museum has a car park is not clearly indicated and the archway entrance does not look like you should be driving through it, but you can.


St John Street, Stirling FK8 1EA, 01786 450050

Operated by:


Opening Hours:

Open daily with tours every 30 mins from 10:15am to 5:15pm.


Guided Tour with an Actor: Adult £14, Concession £10.50, Child £8, under 5's free.




Multilingual audio-tour, live tour with actors in English


Limited disabled access to upper floors of the Jail, but there is a lift so most areas can be visited.







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