The Tolbooth situated on the old pier is the oldest building in Stonehaven built at the end of the 16th Century by George the 5th Earl Marishal as a storehouse for Dunnottar Castle. It was converted to a Courthouse and Tolbooth in 1600. In its time the Tolbooth held condemned prisoners, rioters and notable members of the local Barclay family. The Tolbooth court continued to sit until it was moved in 1767. An account of the first sitting in this new Courthouse, that of the trial of John Couley, held in December of that year. However the new building was still incomplete and permission was requested, and granted, to move the trial after Sir William Ogilvy of Barras (chancellor of the jury) complained that, at 1am,
" It being both frost and snow, and the Court-house being very open, and no place or apartment therein,..... it would be impossible for them to give their verdict without imminent hazard to health."
So the grateful jurors accepted the hospitality of Mrs Logie, Mill of Stonehaven, in allowing them to deliberate in her home and by instruction, to return a verdict by ten o'clock that forenoon.
After 1767 it reverted to its use as a storehouse for merchants and fishermen. It suffered damage during 1944 when a mine exploded against the Harbour pier and its dilapidated state was further accelerated by the great storms of 1953. In 1963 the Tolbooth was restored and re-opened by Her Majesty the Queen Mother as a museum and now is an important part of the historical tapestry of Stonehaven.
Average High Tide Variation: 10 minutes after Aberdeen
Latitude: 56° 58'N
Longitude: 02° 12'W
Admiralty: Chart No. 1438
Stonehaven Harbour was originally a small natural bay to the south of the mouth of the River Carron, sheltered to the southeast by Downie Point. Stonehaven Harbour was first built prior to 1607 but was destroyed by storms.
It was repaired and again destroyed by storms. In 1678 it was built more robustly but broke up under the force of North Sea storms. Its usefulness as a harbour was curtailed by a large rock "Craig-ma-cair" which lay to the southward of the pier and its tendency to silt-up after storms. A new plan was drawn up in 1811, by Robert Stevenson the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson, to provide improvements and deepening as well as breakwaters and piers.
In 1825 an Act of Parliament invested title in the Harbour Commissioners and the following year quarrying and blasting of Craig-ma-cair was successfully concluded as well as the construction of a new South Pier extending the harbour to an area of 5 acres. In 1877 the old pier was extended for an inner harbour. In 1908 the breakwater was finally completed. The Harbour was handed over to Stonehaven Town Council in 1962.