Perth, Edinburgh Road, Perth Prison

Plague Burial(s) (possible), Prison, Ventilation Shaft(s), War Memorial(s)

Site Name Perth, Edinburgh Road, Perth Prison

Classification Plague Burial(s) (possible), Prison, Ventilation Shaft(s), War Memorial(s)

Alternative Name(s) Hm Prison Perth; Prisoner Of War Memorial Plaque

Canmore ID 148030

Site Number NO12SW 356

NGR NO 11786 22395

NGR Description Centred on Central Building

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Perth
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire

Archaeology Notes

NO12SW 356.00 11786 22395 (Centred on Central Building)

For discovery of flints, see

NO 117 223 A phased programme of archaeological works was undertaken at HMP Perth from January to March 2006 prior to redevelopment, together with ongoing monitoring of groundworks during construction. The redevelopment included the demolition of C Hall and the erection of a series of new buildings within and adjacent to the former C Hall. The site has been in constant use as a prison since the construction of a Napoleonic prisoner-of-war depot in 1811. It was converted to a general prison in 1842 and has subsequently undergone much remodelling throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Trial-trenching within the proposed development area exposed elements of both the Napoleonic prisoner-of-war buildings and the later Victorian structures. Within C Hall elements of a stone-built `hub and spoke¿ airing or exercise yard and a tunnel structure relating to a probable Victorian air ventilation system were uncovered. Further excavation exposed elements of the `hub and spoke¿ exercise yard. The airing yard was laid out in a `wheel¿ plan with spokes running from a central hub. Each spoke of the wheel was a stone wall, with two walls forming a compartment narrowing towards the central hub. A prisoner was contained within the cell to `exercise¿ while a prison warder was located in the elevated central tower, allowing clear surveillance of all compartments. This structure was designed to physically contain and visually restrict the prisoners while allowing them to exercise in the open air. Map evidence suggests that HMP Perth originally had three `hub and spoke¿ airing yards, built between 1840 and 1851.

A historic building survey was undertaken within the basement of C Hall prior to demolition. Initial inspection of the basement identified seven blocked tunnel structures within the wall of a main tunnel which ran the full length of thehall. Excavations also exposed a tunnel structure running between C and D Halls. The below-ground and above-ground evidence suggest that the Victorian-period prison halls were ventilated by a series of tunnel structures linked to air shafts located within the exercise yards.

Monitoring of groundworks uncovered 20 burials, male and female, stacked in two rows. The burials were clearly part of a single event and lay a short distance outside the boundary of the formal prison burial ground. They are likely to be associated with an outbreak of plague or disease.

Archive and report to be deposited in NMRS. Report lodged with Perth and Kinross SMR.

Sponsor: Scottish Prison Service.

Candy Hatherley, 2006.

Architecture Notes

NO12SW 356.00 11786 22395 (Centred on Central Building)

The central building is also known as the central offices or inner entrance and originally had an octagonal tower or chimney (demolished c 1965).

NO12SW 356.01 11759 22405 Gate-house

NO12SW 356.02 11907 22281 Original Perimeter Wall

NO12SW 356.03 117 222 Watching brief; Human Remains

NO12SW 356.04 11700 22447 A Block

NO12SW 356.05 11815 22387 Main Block including A, B, C, D Halls

NO12SW 356.06 11702 22454 H Block

NO12SW 356.07 11724 22438 Governor's House

NO12SW 356.08 11759 22477 Hospital Block (L Block)

NO12SW 356.09 11808 22333 Exercise Yard

Architect: Thomas Brown 1840-44 (conversion of original prison to a General prison)

Robert Reid 1810-12

Robert Mathieson c. 1857 additions

EXTERNAL REFERENCE:

S.R.O

Plans: RHP 9269/2, 9270 Thomas Brown engraving, plan and elevation, plans, elevations and sections.

National Library

Reports of the General Board of Directors of Prisons in Scotland 1840-44

Lithographed plans and sections in Appendices to 1840 and 1842 volumes signed Thomas Brown, Charlotte Street, Edinburgh.

Plan of prison existing in 1840.

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