10 things to definitely do when you visit Inveraray Jail
There’s so much to see and do at Inveraray Jail. Visitors can explore at their leisure, interact with costumed staff, sample punishments, witness early justice and see history brought to life. There’s the old prison, the new prison, the courthouse, the airing yards, the exhibitions and the shop. So where to start? Here are the 10 things that should be top of your list when you visit Inveraray Jail.
- Meet the prisoners. They’ll be more than happy to tell you about life in jail. Ask them what they were convicted of, how long their sentence is, where they come from and how life’s treating them behind bars. These inmates are actors, but their portrayals are based on real people who were locked up here during the 19th century.
- Search the prison records for your ancestors. We’re lucky enough to have records holding details of over 4,000 prisoners who served sentences here at Inveraray Jail. Browse the replica Prison Records Book or use the interactive touchscreen.
- Try out the punishments – if you dare! Get strapped onto the whipping table, take a turn on the crank wheel or test the thumbscrews used to inflict pain in the past.
- Participate in a courtroom drama. Take your seat alongside the witnesses and listen to extracts from actual trials held in this room over 150 years ago. Imagine that you were in the dock, facing time in jail.
- Meet ‘Mad Archie’. You’ll find him in Cell 7 of the Old Prison. Archibald MacLellan was found guilty of murder in 1826, but at the time of his crime was considered to be ‘insane and deprived of reason’. He was sentenced to spend ‘all the days of his life in Inveraray Jail’.
- Have an eerie encounter. It seems that some of Inveraray Jail’s inmates have refused to leave! Visitors and staff alike have reported all sorts of strange sightings and paranormal activity over the years, from icy drafts to ghostly apparitions. You never know who you might meet…
- Check out the Black Maria. This horse-drawn carriage, specifically made for carrying prisoners, was built in 1891. It’s probably the last of its kind in the UK. It has been beautifully restored and takes pride of place in the courtyard next to the Old Jail.
- Get locked up! The Warder will be more than happy to put you behind bars. Try out the hammocks and imagine what life must have been like in the cells.
- Take some exercise. The Warder will escort you to the Airing Yards for your daily constitutional. These yards were built in 1843 to provide a secure place where prisoners could walk in the fresh air for an hour a day. You don’t need to do the full hour of course…
- Grab some swag! Before you make your escape, visit the Inveraray Jail shop. It’s packed with fantastic gifts and souvenirs, including lots of Inveraray-jail branded goodies. Try the ‘Prison Bars’ of chocolate and jars of ‘Punish Mints’.
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