Dunbar Town House Museum

Town House, Dunbar
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Town House, Dunbar

Located on Dunbar High Street, close to the John Muir Birthplace, this museum is located in the Dunbar Town House, or Tolbooth, which once acted as the administrative centre of the town. Built around 1593, the Town Council had their chambers on the top floor of the building, while the police office was on the ground floor. Until 1860, there were two small cells on the first floor; one kept for debtors and the other for all manner of criminals, thieves or witches. Between 1911 and 1913 the white lime harling was removed exposing the stone beneath. The building became redundant with local government reorganisation and the last meeting of the Town Council took place in April 1975. Today, the old council chamber is used for occasional meetings of the East Lothian Council, community meetings and civil weddings performed by the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, who maintains an adjacent office as part of the East Lothian Social Work and Housing Department.

The museum opened in 1994 and is run by East Lothian Council. Its displays concentrate on local history, including photographs of old Dunbar and the surrounding area, and local archaeology. A statue of the young John Muir (1838 - 1914), environmentalist and founder of the US National Parks system, has been erected on the street in front of the building and remnants of the old Mercat Cross of Dunbar have been transplanted outside.

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