Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Scottish Borders
Planning Authority
Scottish Borders
NT 64761 20184
364761, 620184


Archibald Elliott, 1823; alterations by Thomas Brown 1847; restoration by Aitken and Turnbull 1968. Model castellated jail built on site of former Jedburgh Castle (demolished 1409). Sham battlements with small towers at angles (entrance in NE tower) enclosing D-plan site at top of Castlegate; sham portcullis entrance gate. At centre of site square 2-storey 3-bay Gaoler's House with towers at each corner; flanked by rectangular 2-storey 5-bay cell blocks - to right for Male Debtors and Female Criminals, to left Bridewell; to rear 2-storey 6-bay cell block for Male Criminals; cell blocks 3 bays deep and disposed radially. Walls enclosing quadrants between blocks serving as exercise yards. Buildings and walls of cream sandstone rubble with ashlar dressings; buildings and fortifactions with battlemented parapet and moulded ashlar coping; quadrant walls with plain semi-circular coping. Base course and string courses above ground floor and below parapet. Cell blocks have round-headed bipartite windows at 1st floor. All windows with deep splayed reveals.

GAOLER'S HOUSE: symmetrical square 2-storey 3-bay battlemented house; round-headed openings; quarter engaged round towers at each corner with battlements raised and slot windows to both storeys, many blinded (towers to front contain stairs and secondary doors). Taller circular bell-tower at centre of building with louvred openings.

N (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: door and semicircular fanlight with cavetto surround, set in advanced ashlar panel at centre; windows above and flanking, to both floors. Towers at corners.

E, S AND W ELEVATIONS: plain door with rectangular fanlight at ground and 1st floor (without fanlight); upper floors linked by cast-iron bridges). Windows to both floors of flanking bays. Towers at corners.

BRIDEWELL: to E of Gaoler's house. 2-storey 5-bay cell block. High segmental-headed windows at ground, bipartite windows to 1st floor.

W (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: 3-bay. Arcaded round-headed openings at ground, outer arched blinded; square-headed door at 1st loor centre, flanking windows.

E ELEVATION: 3-bay. Regular fenestration; outer windows at ground blinded.

N AND S ELEVATIONS: 5-bay. Regular fenestration; outer right bay at ground with blocked doorways.

MALE DEBTORS/FEMALE CRIMINALS BLOCK: to W of Gaoler's house. 2-storey 5-bay cell block with round-headed arcaded openings at ground, completely or partially blocked to leave various openings. Substantially altered in 1847. Single storey roughcast lean-to added to W between block and battlemented wall.

E (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: 3-bay. Entrance at centre, square-headed door above; flanking arches at ground blinded, windows to 1st floor.

W ELEVATION: 3-bay. High segmental-headed windows at ground, outer ones grounded; windows to 1st floor.

N AND S ELEVATIONS: 5-bay. Arch to right blinded, remainder partially blocked. Windows to 1st floor.

MALE CRIMINALS BLOCK: to S of Gaoler's house. 2-storey 6-bay cell block, detailed as above block. Substantial alterations in 1847 included addition of square castellated chimney tower at centre of building. Single storey roughcast lean to added to S between block and battlemented wall.

N (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: 3-bay. Entrance at centre, square-headed door above; flanking arches at ground blinded, windows to 1st floor.

S ELEVATION: 3-bay. High segmental-headed windows at ground, outer ones blinded: windows to 1st floor.

E AND W ELEVATIONS: 6-bay. S bay at ground blank, with projecting wall; remainder partially blocked. Windows to 1st floor.

INTERIORS: individual stone vaulted cells with iron doors to each bay; central corridors - that to Male Debtors/Female Criminals block divided longitudinally.

8-pane or small-pane timber sash and case windows to Gaoler's house, otherwise iron grilles to cell blocks. Cast-iron downpipes with dated rainwater heads.

PORTCULLIS GATE: in section of battlemented wall splayed forward on axis with Castlegate; round-headed entrance with roll-moulded architrave contains outer timber 2-leaf panelled and bolted door and inner iron yett; stone vaulting between.

ENTRANCE GATES: polygonal ashlar gatepiers with base and polygonal flat-topped caps support decorative cast-iron lamps. Low quadrant walls with iron arrowhead railings terminated by flanking square coped ashlar piers.

Statement of Special Interest

Jedburgh old Castle Jail is a fine example of a purpose built early 19th century jail with a complex double walled layout, demonstrating some fine castellated stone detailing, and prominently sited to the head of the town's main street on the mound of the demolished Jedburgh Castle. It is contemporary with the A listed Inveraray Jail (1819) and in the same style as the larger Stirling Old Town Jail (1847)also category A listed, although Jedburgh is a more refined plan layout than both. Jedburgh's old jail had been in the Newgate (see separate listing) and a separate bridewell (House of Correction) had been built in 1789 just S of the Abbey Bridge; it was demolished in 1972 to make way for the by-pass. The function of both of these buildings was replaced after the 1919 Prison Act, one of the consequences of which was a new prison at Jedburgh. The county provided the estimated $11,000 cost, the burgh providing the site. Jedburgh castle had been demolished by the Scots in 1409 to prevent the English using it during the Border wars, and all that remained was fragments of masonry. The mound on which it stood was largely covered by trees, and was the site of the town gallows. Archibald Elliott, the architect of Edinburgh's Calton Gaol, was chosen to design the new jail, and by 1834 the Parish Minister John Purves remarked that there was "no more comfortable place of

confinement in Scotland". In 1847 the jail was altered to come into

line with the harsh Prison Acts of 1839 which stipulated separate cells; arcades were closed and common rooms divided. The Bridewell, having originally been built with separate cells anyway, is therefore the least altered part of the complex. Jedburgh jail at one point moved someone to poetry, viz.

I'd rather lie in the belly o' a whale

Than spend a nicht in Jethart Gaol.

It closed in 1886 and was sold to the burgh in 1890. The Gaoler's house was let until 1961, and it was decided to open the jail to the public in 1964.

Castlehill Cottage, occupying a sensitive site to the SE of the Jail but within the outer boundary wall, should be noted. It dates back to the mid-19th century but has clearly been severely overhauled several times.

Descheduled 2013. List description updated 2013





Simpson and Stevenson HISTORIC JEDBURGH SBS 1981 pp9-10, 34.




George Watson "The Annals of Jedburgh Castle" HAWICK ARCHITECTURAL SOCIETY May 20th 1902.


Plans in Edinburgh City Architects Department (copies at NMRS). RHP 21509-21533 and 43170.

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

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