Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

Aberdeen Sheriff Court Annex and High Court of Justiciary (Formerly Bank Of Scotland), 53 Castle Street, AberdeenLB20174

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NJ 94436 6307
394436, 806307


James Burn, 1801 with circa 1859 addition to Marischal Street by William Smith. 3-storey, 5 x 5-bay classical former bank on prominent sloping corner site. Grey granite ashlar, channelled at ground floor. Base course, impost course, band and string courses, triglyph and disc frieze. Deep modillioned eaves cornice. Piended and platformed roof. Balustraded parapet with blocking course to east. Ground floor openings set within round-arched recesses. Shallow steps lead to recessed 4-panel, 2-leaf timber entrance door, with semi-circular glazed fanlight above, set in round-arched opening. Giant order Doric pilasters separate upper storey bays to Castle Street elevation. Some blind windows to east elevation.

Predominantly plate glass replacement in timber sash and case windows. Grey slate. Coped wallhead and gable stacks.

The interior was seen in 2006 and contains an impressive entrance hall with fluted Corinthian columns (some not structural) and pilasters, sectioned ceiling with quality deep decorative plaster cornicing. Some vaulted cells in basement. The remainder of the building has been comprehensively modernised into courts and offices.

Statement of Special Interest

Constructed in 1801 the former Aberdeen Banking Company Bank (now Aberdeen Sheriff Court Annex and High Court of Justiciary) was the first fully dressed granite ashlar building to be built in Aberdeen. Built in the Classical style, it set the precedent for the city and the Classical style became the favoured style of 19th century Aberdeen. The workmanship of the exterior masonry detailing is outstanding and particularly unusual for its date. Before steam-powered technology was introduced later in the 19th century, it was difficult to create intricate detailing from the exceptionally hard granite stone. The building is prominently positioned at a crucial corner site in the city centre and it forms a significant part of the streetscape.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court Annex and High Court of Justiciary was constructed in 1801 for the Aberdeen Banking Company and is an early example of its building type. Originally with 2 bays to Marischal Street, William Smith added an extension in 1859 and refurbished the interior decorative scheme. The Aberdeen Bank was incorporated into the Union Bank in 1849 and later into the Bank of Scotland. The building was converted into use for the Scottish Court Service in 2004-5, to accommodate the High Court as well as Sheriff Court Jury sittings.

James Burn (1748-1816) was an architect builder from Haddington, whose main output was houses in the East Lothian area. The Aberdeen Banking Company Bank was one of three buildings he designed in Aberdeen at this time.

William Smith (1817-91) was an Aberdeen based architect who designed domestic, educational, public and private buildings in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. He produced designs for the limited competition of Aberdeen Sheriff Court, where he lost out to Peddie & Kinnear, the practice he replaced in the design of Peterhead Sheriff Court.

Although a number of county buildings were adapted for court use when the adjacent court house required additional accommodation it is rare to find a court house adapted from an entirely different type of building. The monumentality of the classical architecture of banks is appropriate for the status of court buildings, and another example is former Glasgow Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court in Ingram Street, Glasgow (built in 1841 as the Glasgow and Ship Bank) (see separate listing).

Statutory address and listed building record revised as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as '53 Castle Street, Sheriff Court Annex and High Court of Justiciary (Formerly Bank Of Scotland)'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 20098.

Wood, J. (1828) Plan of the Cities of Aberdeen. Edinburgh: Wood.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1867, published 1869) Aberdeen Sheet LXXV.11 (Old Machar). 1st Edition Map, 25 inches to the mile. London: Ordnance Survey.

Rettie, J, (1972) Aberdeen 150 Years Ago. Wakefield: EP Publishing Limited p.57,58.

Brogden, W A (1998) Aberdeen, An Illustrated Architectural History. Edinburgh: RIAS. p.24.

Ranald MacInnes (2000) The Aberdeen Guide. Edinburgh:Birlinn. p.134.

Scottish Dictionary of Architects. Union Bank at [accessed 29 December 2014].

Lloyds Banking Group. Aberdeen Banking Company at [accessed 29 December 2014].

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


Aberdeen Sheriff Court Annex and High Court of Justiciary, principal elevation, looking south, during daytime with blue sky.

Printed: 24/06/2024 00:10