Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing 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.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NS 79233 93615
279233, 693615


Thomas Brown, 1847; restored and converted to museum and offices 1994-6, Stirling District Council architects, main contractor Ogilvies. 3-storey and basement, 7-bay, V-plan prison with crenellated parapets and large round tower to W. Dark whinstone squared and snecked rubble with contrasting droved ashlar dressings and quoins. Round- and segmental-headed openings; hoodmoulds, stone mullions, concave-moulded and chamfered arrises.

E (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: symmetrical. Centre bay with steps up to deeply chamfered and hoodmoulded round-arched doorway, 2-leaf panelled timber door with decorative-astragalled fanlight, hoodmoulded windows in flanking bays, 3 round-headed windows above and parapet over with centre bay extending into 2nd floor tower with hoodmoulded, round-headed tripartite window below machicolated parapet. Flanking single storey bays each with window and parapet, and segmental-headed window to each floor of recessed face behind. Full-height, parapetted outer bays with segmental-headed openings, door to ground at left and window to right, window to each floor above in machicolated, recessed panel.

ROUND TOWER: 4-stage engaged tower to centre bay of W elevation with small round 3-stage tower to NW corbelled out from 1st floor, and 3-stage polygonal tower to E rising above 3rd stage. 3 segmental-headed windows to 1st stage (raised basement) and to 2nd stage (ground floor); 3rd stage with 3 windows to 1st and 2nd floors connected by narrow vertical panels and continuous hoodmould forming rounded windowheads at 2nd floor; 4th stage with 3 glazed oculi below machicolated parapet. Small corbelled tower with 2 gunloops to 1st stage, 1 to 2nd stage and further smaller loop to 3rd stage with machicolated parapet. Blind polygonal tower with crenellated parapet.

W ELEVATION: 13-bay elevation with round tower (see above) to centre and segmental-headed openings. Bays to right of centre with 4 small windows (cells) high up in raised basement, regular fenestration and parapet above; 2 slightly higher advanced outer bays with similar fenestration. Bays to left of centre mirror those to right.

N ELEVATION: raised basement with round-headed doorway and 2-leaf panelled timber door to left, 3 close-set round-headed windows to centre, and each floor above with 3 windows to centre (as above) those to 1st and 2nd floors in machicolated panel, and narrow round-headed lights to flanking bays.

S ELEVATION: mirrors N elevation.

Multi-pane glazing throughout, some windows retain bars. Graded grey slate. Cast-iron downpipes with decorative rainwater hoppers.

INTERIOR: all cells to W. Basement cells retained with Victorian jail and military prison detail; cantilevered galleries above converted to offices; central beehive panoptican and former Governor?s office with corbelled viewing bay.

BOUNDARY WALLS, GATEPIERS AND GATES: St John Street entrance with crenellated squared and snecked rubble boundary walls and square-plan, crenellated ashlar gatepiers each with gunloop to E and sentry hole to W, cast-iron gates. Inner wall with segmental-headed archway, crenellated parapet and cast-iron gates flanked by semicircular-coped rubble walls. Further high boundary walls to N, S and W with triangular-plan outbuilding to SW angle.

Statement of Special Interest

Built to replace the Tolbooth (noted as the worst prison in Britain in 1842), Stirling Old Town Jail is a fine example of the castellated revival style so popular with prison reformers of the earlier 19th century. The building boasted 57 properly ventilated individual cells with a basic central heating system, debtors dayroom, washing areas and roof walkway, with every cell visible from the panopticon. The building was used as a military prison from 1888-1935, eventually falling into serious disrepair. During the First World War the building also housed a small venereal disease hospital. In 1985 Stirling District Council purchased the property, restoration commenced in 1992, and the visitor attraction (run jointly by Stirling and Trossachs Tourist Board and the District Council) opened on 2 April 1996.




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. 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


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