Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Tolbooth Museum and the Scare

The lady emerged just when I clicked.
I was very lucky to have returned here in Aberdeen, Scotland.  I took another training which lasted for 1.5 days.  It’s quite funny because it took me two days to get here, 4 days round trip.  I was so excited to see another castle.  The nearest castle was 1 hour and 30 min from where I stayed and the training ended at 4pm on the first day.  The castle closes at 5pm, too bad, so I just stayed in the hotel. I was sleepy too because I was still adjusting to the time difference.  I was hoping our class would end early on the second day.  It did end at around 12nn.  I rushed to the bus station and went to the city center and went straight to the tourist information center.  

To my disdain, the receptionist advised against me going to Crathes Castle because it’s quite far and I might miss my plane if I go there, it’s quite risky she said.  My plane was scheduled to leave at 6:25pm.  My heart sank because it was my ultimate goal when I came back here.  Oh well, I decided not to push the issue and asked regarding any site to see with the available time that I have.  She said the Tolbooth Museum and the Footdee.  I was beginning to get excited again, at least I will see and learn Scottish culture before I leave.  I rushed out of the center and didn’t even bother to ask what the museum was about and what in the world was Footdee.  I learned afterwards and had one of the biggest scare in my life!  By the way, the mysterious Footdee will be written in another article.

Second floor
The Tolbooth Musuem was only a 3-minute walk from the information center.  I was greeted by a mild mannered man in his 60’s and was given a small information leaflet.  I was already told by the receptionist in the tourist information center that the admission is free.  The museum was only a portion of a large building and occupied three storeys.  The large building was known as the Tolbooth , one of Aberdeen’s oldest buildings and was the seat of Aberdeen government circa 17 century.  The Tolbooth museum now is actually the Wardhouse, which was a prison to accommodate those warded to await trial and punishment and this structure was well preserved.   I thought I was going to see crown jewels or bagpipes or old kilts, instead I saw old guns, a key and handcuffs, old books which listed all the prisoners and something scary.  

Key and Handcuffs
I had to climb a narrow spiral staircase to reach the 2nd floor, where there were no handrails but only ropes.  I was having a difficult time because I was carrying my duffel bag and it was quite large to fit into the narrow turns of the spiral.  The stairs were dimly lit and seemed endless.  The second floor contained some miniature models of the old Tolbooth and some old drums which were used in the olden times to summon town leaders for a government official gathering.  

Spiral stairs
I got a little bored with what I saw, and decided to go out.  The museum-in-charge caught up with me and told me that there are still rooms in the 3rd floor which I haven’t explored.  Might as well check everything out while I’m here.  So, I climbed another narrow and dark spiral staircase.  With my heavy bag, I again had the difficulty in climbing up.  Upon reaching the top floor, I saw a steel door with a large padlock, I was entering another old prison cell.  Imagine yourself going to a dimly lit room and when you turn to the right you see an ugly old woman, dressed in an old fashioned skirt, sitting on the floor at the far side of the room! Waaaaaaah!  My balls practically went up my throat, I could almost taste them, I thought I was seeing one of Walking Dead's characters.  That’s how scared I was.  I was stunned and I felt like all my hairs were standing up.  I was about to go down when I saw another tourist emerge from the left side of the room.  Thank God I wasn’t alone.  It took my brain cells approximately 2 seconds to process that what I was looking at was a wax mannequin.  She looked so real.  The face, the hair, the hands…creepy.  Later,  I found out that she was a witch who was waiting for her trial.  There were big witch hunts in the Medieval times and the alleged women were also kept there in the prison cell.  These women weren’t given justice, they were burned even without the freedom to defend themselves.  It just shows that people, past and present, are afraid of things they do not understand.  

The witch
I regained back my courage after a while (ahem).  I then examined the wall at the left side of the room with all the names of all the debtors imprisoned there.  Apparently, back in days, you will be imprisoned if you cannot pay your debts.  Hmmm, not really logical.  There was one more room that I didn’t see, so what the heck, might as well explore it.  This time, I know I was alone because there were no more sounds of footsteps ahead of me.  There it is again, a figure of a man with shaggy hair, depressed face and tattered clothes, squatting on the floor with chains!  I didn’t bother to see who or what he was, I just rushed to the spiral staircase, didn’t even care if I trip or fall as long as I can get out of that room.   My balls were displaced again, God knows where.  

This must be a non-peak season for the museum because there were only 6 of us who were inside the 3-storey building and I was the last one to explore the 3rd floor.  Who knows how many inmates have died there and how many souls still clinging at the area, those who were not able to move on.  

 A list of debtors.

I don’t usually get scared, I have been in hospitals with more scary stories than this museum, but there was something different about this place.

Guillotine blade
Upon reaching the ground floor, I paused, tried to relax to decrease my respiratory rate and then turned left to see the mild mannered receptionist.  I thanked him and said “this is a lovely place”.  (wink)


  1. Life isn't about founding yourself.
    Life is about creating yourself. ;)

  2. True. We should take control. Thanks for your comment.


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