Jougs and Pirliewinkles, pp.331-333.

[Scottish National Memorials Contents]

   The ‘Jougs’ or Collar for evil-doers is pretty constant in shape, but the specimens exhibited vary in weight, breadth, fastening, and other details. In all cases it is a hinged iron collar, which could be padlocked, with a chain at the back for fastening by a staple to a wall, or a block of stone, or to a post or tree. Some (as Nos. 1021, 1219) have two hinges, others have only one hinge. In some the collar ends in two flanges which lie close together, and the padlock ring passes through a hole in each. In others the end of one half of the collar has an opening through which the end of the other half passes, and this receives the padlock. 

   The chain usually consists of a couple or so of compressed links, fastened to an iron ring at the back of the collar. In some this ring forms part of the hinge, in others it is welded to the collar, and the hinge is at one side. In such forms the prisoner had but little freedom to move. In some examples (No. 1219) the chain is attached to the collar by a swivel, which gave him a little more ease. 

   The chain is usually from 6 to 8 or 10 inches long, the object being to keep the prisoner standing upright and, as far as possible, in one position. 

   The Old Burgh Jougs of Lochmaben (No. 1218) are different from the preceding, in so far as they are double. The collars are attached by chains 18 inches long with swivels to a centre ring, and to this same ring is attached by a swivel another chain, containing 41 links, and about 7 feet in length, which enabled the prisoners to move about within that radius. The collars are flat bands of iron with a single hinge, and a loop going through a hole for the padlock. 

   A drawing of the Applegirth Jougs is given by Wilson, p. 691 (see Fig. 263), and another set is depicted in the Abbotsford edition of Waverley, p. 84. 

   Simple as it appears, this must have been a very painful punishment. The monotony of the position, the constraint, the constant pressure of the collar on the shoulders, the chilling effect of the iron upon the neck, must have been not only physically painful, but must have produced a distressing mental effect as well. 

   SET OF JOUGS, similar to others enumerated below, but much more ponderous. It consists of a heavy iron collar, with two hinges at the back. The chain for fastening the Jougs has two links, and as there is no swivel the prisoner had little freedom to turn his head. The collar was fastened in front with a padlock. As this set weighs 7 ½ lbs., the weariness produced by their weight alone must, after a time, have become intense, apart altogether from the constrained and unrelieved position in which the weight had to be borne. (See Fig. 264.) 


   JOUGS from the Kirk of Kinnaird, Carse of Gowrie. 

(1217) Lent by W. MURRAY THREIPLAND. 

   THE OLD BURGH JOUGS of Lochmaben, formerly in use in the burgh for the punishment of offenders. 

(1218) Lent by the TOWN COUNCIL OF LOCHMABEN. 

   SET OF JOUGS, formerly used in the village of Thornhill, Perthshire. 

(1219) Lent by ALEXANDER SANDS. 

   SET OF JOUGS, formerly used in the Parish of Polmont, Stirlingshire. 

(1220) Lent by DR. THOMAS D. BUCHANAN. 

   SET OF JOUGS, from Moneydie Church, Perthshire. 

(1221) Lent by MRS. MILLER, PERTH, 


   STIRLING JOUGS. This is one of the most interesting of all these exhibits. It consists of an iron collar 6 ½ inches in diameter, with a hinge at the back or top, to open for admitting the neck. Attached to the collar are two flat iron bars about 3 feet 1 or 2 inches long, which lie close together. About half way down two similar bars are welded on, which are bent into rings to catch the wrists, and can be opened by hinges. These bars are prolonged to the same length as the main centre bars, and lie close to them. At the bottom of the bars is a hole to admit of the passage of an iron rod, which carried ring fetters as well, and the whole was locked up by a padlock. The present set wants the iron rod and fetters. (See Fig. 265.) 

   This invention was not merely a means of securing a prisoner, but it was a torture as well. In the ordinary form of Jougs the prisoner could stand upright, and was otherwise free to move, unless he was secured by the ankles also, as was sometimes done (see a picture of Richard Bradley so fastened, in Father Tanner’s Societas Jesu, etc., p. 125). But in this form the head was kept bent forward, the wrists were held tight, the feet were fastened, and the whole figure was contracted into a length of barely four feet. After a very short time the constraint of such a position must have become excruciatingly painful, for there was no possibility of relief 

   A picture of these irons is given by Cruikshank in one of the illustrations to Ainsworth’s Tower of London, 1840, p. 279, where they are called by the name of the ‘Scavenger’s Daughter.’ There is exhibited at this very time, in the Horse Armoury in the Tower, a set of these irons with the foot bar and fetters complete, probably the same as those depicted by Cruikshank. They are described on the label as the ‘Scavenger’s Daughter, for securing the head, arms, and feet,’ and they are in a less imperfect state than those now under consideration. They are a good deal shorter, however, than the Stirling set, for the distance between the neck and wrist rings is only some 7 or 8 inches, and 20 or 22 inches from the wrist rings to the foot bar, so that the victim must have been bent till his head and feet would be within 36 inches of each other. At the same time it appears very doubtful if these irons are really identical with those called the ‘Scavenger’s Daughter.’ This name is a corruption of ‘Skevington’s Daughter’ or ‘Skevington’s irons,’ from Sir William Skevington, who was lieutenant of the Tower in King Henry the Eighth’s time, and who invented a new species of torture. 

   A graphic account of it is given by Father Tanner in p. 18 of the book above referred to. He calls it ‘Filia Scavengeri,’ and says that it is just the reverse of the rack; for, whereas by the rack all the joints and members were stretched and drawn asunder, by the other they were squeezed as if into a ball. The legs were folded together and compressed against the body by a couple of iron bows, the ends of which were drawn together by the executioner until they become hoops. By this process the body of the victim within was so squeezed that the blood exuded from the extremities, and the breast was sometimes fractured, and it was looked upon as worse even than the rack. 

   A specimen of this invention was discovered in the dungeon called ‘Little Ease’ in the Tower, and a picture of the use of it, or of a device similar to it, is contained in Verstegan’s Theatrum Crudelitatum Hæreticorum Nostri Temporis, Antverpiæ, 1588, p. 75, B, and on the same page of the French translation, also printed at Antwerp, 1588. 

(1037) Lent by the TOWN COUNCIL OF STIRLING. 

   THE GAD OR ANKLE BAR, also from Stirling, is a great bar three feet long with a broad hammered head. On this is slipped an iron ring to encircle the ankle. A hole at the end of the bar receives a padlock, which is of huge dimension to correspond with the bar itself 

   This is similar to a set of irons also exhibited in the Tower of London, and labelled Bilboes, which were used for linking prisoners together. The Tower specimen, however, is not so massive, but it has the rings for the ankles, sliding upon the rod, and it is fastened up in the usual way by a curious flat padlock. 

(1037) Lent by the TOWN COUNCIL OF STIRLING. 

   THE PIRLIEWINKLES, pirliewinkes, pilniewinkes, pilliwinkes, pinniewinks, for there are various forms of the name, all seem to denote the same thing, which, according to Hill Burton (Criminal Trials, 1852, i. p. 299), was a kind of thumbscrew. Pitcairn in the Criminal Trials (i. p. 215) gives a similar account, and thinks them the same possibly as the English Pyrewinks, and in this he is followed by Dalyell (Darker Superstitions of Scotland, 1835, p. 648). The instrument exhibited under this name, of which a picture is given, may be so described, but it seems more specially designed for crushing all the fingers of one hand, or one or two fingers of each hand. It consists of two plates of iron hinged at the back, and held open by a stout C spring. Attached to the lower plate is a strong iron bar which bends up over the hinge and divides into two arms, which stretch towards the extremities of the upper plate, and are each provided with a screw. 

   The front edges of the plates are turned over so as to touch each other, and are sharp enough with sufficient pressure to cut bluntly. The plates are rather curiously shaped. The front edge is concave, and from horn to horn is about six inches; of the other two sides, one is convex, the other is concave. 

   When the instrument is to be used the fingers are placed between the plates, which are then forced together by the screws, with the result of stopping the circulation, then of cutting or bruising the flesh, and finally of crushing the bones. 

   This hideous device was not used under restrictions, but seems to have been at the disposal of any person. Thus in Tranent, somewhere about the year 1590 or 1591, a certain David Seaton, because his maid Geillis Duncane helped people who were ill, suspected her of doing it by ‘unlawful means’ – in other words, by sorcery. And, because she would not answer his questions, ‘her maister, to the intent that he might the better trie and finde out the truth of the same, did with the help of others, torment her with the torture of the Pilliwinkes upon her fingers, which is a grieuous torture, and binding or wrinching her head with a cord or roape, which is a most cruell torment also, yet would she not confesse anie thing.’ See the account given in that vevy rare tract, entitled Newes from Scotland, declaring the damnable life of Doctor Fian, London, William Wright (1592), which is a perfect repertory of horrors. The torture must have been considerable when it is so described, but the author of the tract, who is said to have been a clergyman, does not seem to have considered that David Seaton and the other savages who helped him went beyond their powers. (See Fig. 266.) 

(1213) Lent by W. MURRAY THREIPLAND.