On a warm sunny day Jedburgh’s Castle Jail is one of the most pleasant looking buildings you could come across….from the outside.
Step across the threshold and you may find that it’s a different story. Here you will find tales of the gallows and and of ghosts – a grisly past and a very spooky present indeed.
It is reputedly one of the most haunted places in the Borders, where apparitions are seen regularly, including a ghostly piper who walks the parapets, and strange lights appear at night.
The jail’s ghostly goings on have hit the headlines more than once and featured on TV when a team investigating the paranormal paid a visit. Their verdict – a spine chilling experience.
All of which is hardly surprising when you find that the prison was built on Gallows Hill and the site of the original castle, burnt down in 1409 to deny its use to the invading English. Despite its reputation Jedburgh Castle Jail continues to be a popular booking for ghost hunting groups from all over the country.
The castle was built in the 12th century by King David I and King Malcolm IV died there in 1165.
The present day building, a John Howard Reform Jail, went up in 1820 and was a model establishment in its day, though there’s no doubt that you wouldn’t have wanted to do time there.
The interpretation centre that is open to the public today reveals a prison regime that was as harsh as it was bleak.
You can walk through the original cell blocks, meet the inmates, examine the conditions they lived in and follow their stories. Step into one of the cells and just imagine the door being slammed shut and you’ll know what I mean.
The prison was mainly used as a debtors jail but, following longstanding tradition, executions continued to take place and criminals were hung on the gallows.
One such involved Thomas Wilson who was found guilty for the murder of a young shepherd at St Boswells Fair. It later transpired that Thomas was innocent (not the first and certainly not the last) and it may be that his spirit is one of those that roams the building seeking justice.
Today it’s home to a museum that charts the town’s history and the achievements of its most famous citizens together and plays host to displays and travelling exhibitions.