Come along to the picturesque town of Stonehaven and visit the Tolbooth Museum located on the harbour front. The Stonehaven Tolbooth is thought to have been founded by George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal (c. 1553–1623), with the original purpose of the rectangular building being to act as a storehouse during the construction of the nearby Dunnottar Castle. In 1600, an Act of Parliament provided that the building become the administrative centre for Stonehaven.
Entry is FREE. Everyone is welcome. Donations appreciated.
After 1624, the town business functions were conducted on the upper level of the Stonehaven Tolbooth, with the ground floor being used as the prison. It remained a courthouse (upper floor) and prison (ground floor) until 1767 when these activities were relocated to a new municiple building at the junction of the High Street and Dunnottar Avenue. The building then reverted as a store until the 1950s by which time it had fallen into disrepair.
In 1963 the building was renovated and officially re-opened by Her Majesty the Queen Mother. In 1975 further work saw the upper floor converted into a museum reflecting Stonehaven’s long history. Currently the museum occupies the ground floor whilst a separate restaurant operates on the upper floor.
The museum has a number of artefacts associated with Stonehaven’s heritage, many with an association with the days when the building served as a prison. For example, visitors can view an original cell door, the Inverbervie stocks (one of the few seven hole stocks in the UK) and the Crank - a punishment device which was weighted down and had to be turned by prisoners. Tightening the screw would make it harder for the prisoner. (This is why prison guards are called screws).