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Branks and Stocks

Mitchell Library, Glasgow Collection

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Branks and Stocks

These branks and the stocks are examples of implements of corporal punishment used in early modern Glasgow.

Branks (top) were first mentioned in the city's records in 1574. They were sometimes known as "scolding bridles" or "gossip's bridles" and were used to punish scolding, nagging or gossiping women. The device consisted of an iron frame which fitted on the head, with a triangular metal gag which was inserted over the tongue to "silence" the offender for the duration of her sentence. The one seen here is fairly tame compared to others that have been preserved, featuring a sharp iron mouthpiece that could pierce the unfortunate woman's tongue.

The stocks were used to secure the legs or arms of prisoners convicted of any of a variety of crimes. A convicted man or woman was locked into the stocks at the Tolbooth Steeple, where members of the public were free to deliver verbal or physical abuse to the hapless and helpless offender.

Reference: Mitchell Library, G 941.435 REN

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning

branks, corporal punishment, gossips' bridles, pillories, scolds' bridles, stocks, Tolbooth Steeple, women

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