The courthouse with its spacious courtroom was completed in 1820. It was used by the Circuit Court, Sheriff Court and Burgh Courts. It was also used for public meetings and meetings of the Magistrates and Town Council of Inveraray. The upper floor of the courthouse was at one time a debtors’ prison. On the ground floor beneath the courtroom there was accommodation for the keeper or governor of the prison, and a kitchen where food for the prisoners was cooked.
The meetings of the Circuit Court in Inveraray were an occasion of some pomp and ceremony. Judges held a reception and dinner attended by the Town Council, prominent citizens and many of the lawyers involved. On the first day of proceedings there was a formal procession from the Great Inn to the courthouse.
The procession was led by two halberdiers in their red, yellow and black uniforms. They were followed by the Town Council, lawyers, the Sheriff, the Lord Lieutenant, trumpeters, Mace Bearer and Judge. The mace was carried in front of the Judge as a symbol of royal power vested in him.
The Circuit Court visited Inveraray once in the spring and once in the autumn each year. The courtroom was mainly used for the more frequent sessions of the Sheriff Court. They were usually held twice a week and were presided over by a trained lawyer known as a Sheriff Substitute.
The presence of the Sheriff Court gave Inveraray considerable status. Several lawyers and other officials connected with the court lived in the town. In addition to the Sheriff, there were solicitors and their clerks, a Procurator Fiscal and a Sheriff Officer.
Visitors to the courtroom today see it set out as if the Circuit Court was in session. Directly below the Judge sit the Advocate Depute or prosecuting counsel, the Defence Counsel, their respective solicitors and the Clerk of the Court. To the right of the Judge is a 15 man jury. A witness stands to give evidence. The pannel, or accused, guarded on either side by a policeman, sits in the dock facing the Judge. Below and to the left of the Judge stands the Mace Bearer.
To see and hear the court in action drawing on historical records of actual cases, book your visit
to Inveraray Jail, one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions.
The prison warder was a big hit with the children
The guides were really good. Well done!
Excellent, what else can I say!
Mrs Bell, Minto
A Captivating Experience!
Mr Burns, Dumfries
Very well done - especially female prisoner. Would recommend this to anyone!
The guides were really good to Jack (aged 9) and to Gran and Grandad.
The matron locked me in a cell, but I was cheeky!
Morning well spent.
Mrs Einstein, Haifa
Great day out for all age groups!
Enjoyable day out. Good value for money.
Mr Annison, Derby
I thought the guard in the new jail was a dummy, till he moved!
Best attraction we've visited in a long time, thank you!
The Harrison Family
My boyfriend seemed very amused at being able to lock me up and even whip me........!
Enjoyed everything. Great having actual live actors.
It was very good. I especially liked trying out the hammock and the whipping table!
VIEW OUR VIDEOS