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
Click On Map for area Attractions
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
The second image is from the reception
showing the original Column from the Market
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
1616 - 1629 - the Tolbooth was built to
serve as a Council Chamber, Court, and
1630 - Marion Hardie from Elgin was
imprisoned in the Tolbooth for Witchcraft. A
trial led to her being strangled then burnt in
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
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
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
1991 - the Tolbooth was opened as a free
1990s - the central Column of the Market
Cross with a Unicorn on top was replaced. The
original Column is now on display in the
2009 - the TV series Most Haunted visited
the Tolbooth as it is claimed to be the most
haunted place in Aberdeen.