Site icon Random Scottish History

JOURNAL., Various Contributors (Jan., 1895), pp.53-55.

“A LIVELY discussion has been set agoing in the British Archaeological Association on the exact character of the object figured in this cut. One disputant maintains that it is a Roman hippo-sandal – a shoe for a beast of burden, possibly a horse, more probably an ox. But a later critic says nay, concluding his argument with the observation that ‘when we consider that even on a smooth road an animal, if it could stand in those hippo-sandals, could neither walk, trot, nor gallop, the absurdity of the bare suggestion becomes even more apparent.’ “

*     *     *     *     *

“THE December [1894] Antiquary has an article on the punishment of pressing to death, technically known as peine forte et dure. It is rather singular that the writer, dealing with a legal subject, does not cite a single law book, and even quotes a 19th century statute through the medium of Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates. Notwithstanding, he has collected many curious particulars of the barbarous treatment accorded to prisoners who refused to plead either guilty or not guilty. They were put on their backs; weight after weight was laid upon them; and life was literally squeezed out. This was one of the refinements of English law, to which Scotland happily never attained. Its precise origin has not been cleared up. The oldest reported cases extant in which prisoners stood mute – refused to place themselves upon the country (ponere se super patriam) – shew that, in spite of the refusal, they were put upon their trial, and, if found guilty, dealt with according to their demerit. (See Select Pleas of Crown, Selden Society, 153, 157, 200.) This, however, did not quite satisfy the logic of the awkward doctrine that a prisoner could not be tried by the verdict of his neighbours unless he expressly consented. Consequently some special provision was, by Edwardian lawyers, thought necessary. It was found in a particularly rigid imprisonment which, at first associated with something very like starvation, came latterly to imply a speedier consummation by the heaping of weights on the poor wretch until he died. The tender mercies of logic are sometimes cruel.”

*     *     *     *     *

“THE mention of Ruthwell [Dumfries] recalls to mind Sir Herbert Maxwell’s positive but as yet unvouched statement, recently repeated in the Scotsman, that the village derived its name from the Runic cross. This has been more than once sharply challenged as a bad guess most objectionably dressed up as fact. It would be well to have his evidence.”

*     *     *     *     *

“THE Report on the various sections made in the Antonine Wall during the last two or three years by the Glasgow Archaeological Society has been in type for a considerable time, but there has been a series of unfortunate delays hindering completion. There is every reason now to anticipate a very early issue.”

Exit mobile version