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Aberdeen Tolbooth

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Aberdeen Tolbooth is situated in the centre of Aberdeen on Castle Street, at the east end of Union Street, by Castlegate Square, centre of the City. The large Granite Townhouse from the 1870s was built around the Tolbooth.

The Tolbooth can be visited throughout the year free of charge. Postcode: AB11 5BQ

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The image top is from Castlegate Square looking to the Townhouse with the top of the Tolbooth and Spire seen in the middle of the Townhouse buildings. Large Image.

The second image is from the reception showing the original Column from the Market Cross.

The museum was opened in 1991 to give information on how Aberdeen evolved with old images and models. It also covers law and order in the area, with information on executions of murderers and witches. Public punishment and humiliation was used for minor crimes.

Women were often persecuted for talking out of turn, which could lead to them being forced to wear a metal brace over their head with a mouth piece to prevent them from talking.

Aberdeen Tolbooth History

1500s mid - a Guillotine was built at Aberdeen for beheading criminals.

1563 - the Queen's Act against witchcraft was introduced in Scotland.

1604 - Robert Guild was executed by beheading for murdering William Blair on Broad Street. Little is known about other beheadings and when they stopped. The heavy Blade from the Guillotine named The Maiden is on display in the Tolbooth.

1616 - 1629 - the Tolbooth was built to serve as a Council Chamber, Court, and Jail.

1630 - Marion Hardie from Elgin was imprisoned in the Tolbooth for Witchcraft. A trial led to her being strangled then burnt in public.

1686 - the Market Cross was built in front of the Tolbooth.

1703 - Witchcraft was no longer deemed a criminal offence. Over 40 people had been accused of witchcraft in the area, with many burned at the stake. Tar barrels were used for the fires.

1715 - locals declared James Francis Edward Stuart King of Scotland at the Market Cross in front of the Tolbooth. This was a time Jacobite's claimed the Catholic Stuart had a greater claim to the Throne than the Protestant George I, a German relation of Stuart.

The Jacobite Wars were over the English Parliament refusing to select any more Kings suspected of being Catholic and friendly with their enemy, France.

1746 - the Tolbooth held over 50 Jacobite prisoners after the Battle of Culloden, the last Jacobite battle.

1700s mid - Aberdeen Merchants and Magistrates kept many Local Children in the Tolbooth and other buildings around the city before transporting them to America to work, basically as slaves. These were supposed to have been street children with nobody looking after them, although some were said to have been snatched when out playing.

1842 - the Market Cross was moved about 150 yards east of the Tolbooth to the middle of Castlegate Square.

1891 - executions in Aberdeen stopped, apart from one much later.

1963 - the last person to be executed in Aberdeen, and Scotland, was Henry John Burnett for the murder of a merchant seaman.

1991 - the Tolbooth was opened as a free Museum.

1990s - the central Column of the Market Cross with a Unicorn on top was replaced. The original Column is now on display in the Tolbooth.

2009 - the TV series Most Haunted visited the Tolbooth as it is claimed to be the most haunted place in Aberdeen.

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