There was something spooky going on at the Tolbooth Museum last weekend when the Ghost of former jailer Adam Hood appeared.
Adam Hood was the jailer at the Tolbooth in 1725, after taking over from the previous jailer, who was his father. Adam returned to his old jail on Sunday to tell the stories of some of the many people who were incarcerated in the Tolbooth during it’s time as a working jail.
After they got over the initial fright of a ghost appearing in front of them, visitors were treated to tales of some of the gruesome history of the jail.
They were told of imprisoned Jacobite soldiers returning from the Culloden defeat in 1746, and of three Episcopalian ministers who in 1748-9 were sentenced to six months for a breach of assembly. He also spoke of some of the more unfortunate prisoners were sentenced to harsher punishments such as being burnt on the cheek or shoulder or having their ears nailed.
Adam also recalled for visitors a tale his father told him, of one of the more unfortunate people to stay at the Tolbooth, Agnes Moffat who was found guilty of sheep stealing. A crime which she did not commit, in fact her common law husband stole the sheep however poor Agnes was incarcerated in the Tolbooth and ultimately hung on Gallow Hill in Dunnotar Woods for the crime.
Those brave enough to get close to Adam’s ghost might note a similarity between the old jailer and amateur actor, Gary Brindley who is a maths lecturer at Robert Gordon University.
Tolbooth Committee member, Phil Mills Bishop said: “The Tolbooth ghost played by Gary is another of the in-house Tolbooth Residencies that have been created to bring the museum alive and exciting to locals, visitors and in particular children.” The museum decided to create the character of Adam Wood in order to allow a variety of stories from the Tolbooth to be told, and using a character who was a jailer and whose father was a jailer allowed the ghost to tell a range of stories about events which did historically take place within the jail.
Phil explains that the Tolbooth wants to take a step-back from the “Don’t touch” which normally follows museums, and he hopes that this will help to keep visitor numbers up. Earlier this year, the Tolbooth museum faced closure however, in May Community Groups including the Stonehaven Town Partnership stepped in to ensure the museum was kept open.
Since then museum opening times have increased to six days a week and visitor numbers have been strong with 4,000 already this season. Phil Mills-Bishop is optimistic that if the trend continues the museum could see 10,000 people through it’s doors this year.
The museum is open Tuesday - Sunday 1.30pm - 4.30pm and is run by a team of over 40 volunteers.