Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum

Jedburgh Castle is actually the Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum that was built in the early nineteenth century on the site of a 12th century fortress that had been built by King David I. Now there is no evidence left of this earlier structure which had played a key role in the many border confilcts between Scotland and England.

The first Jedburgh Castle had in fact been built to defend the town of Jedburgh against southern attacks. It overlooked the entire town and was an earthen-work foundation and enclosed courtyard structure. King Malcolm IV died there in 1165. In 1174 it was ceded to England under the Treaty of Falaise. It changed hands back and forth after that, till on order of the Scottish Parliament it was destroyed in 1409, to prevent it from falling into English hands again.

The current structure was a Victorian gaol. It was built in 1823 as a Howard reform prison. This is the only existing example of a building of this type left in Scotland. The Jedburgh Castle Jail and Museum has a small display of items that relate to the life in the 19th century prison life. This museum of social history was extensively refurbished and reopened in 1996. The displays in the cellblocks use costumed figures in a setting of period rooms to recreate the lives of prisoners and staff. The Jailer’s House in this Howard Reform Prison has an exhibition that explores the history of the town of Jedburgh through multimedia displays.

Jedburgh town, known locally as Jethart, is home to the well known Jedburgh Abbey and the Mary Queen of Scots House. Apparently she had come to the borders and nearly died of exhaustion and fever in the process. Her famous words when she was incarcerated by Queen Elizabeth I of England were reputed to be “Would that I had died in Jedburgh…” The house is now a museum that depicts the life and times of the Scottish kings. It houses many beautiful artifacts and armor, and some of Mary’s possessions that recount the life of the famous ruler.

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