Friday 6 April 2012: Send her to the Jougs!
These are the Jougs attached to the wall of Cawdor Parish Church in the Scottish Highlands.
400 years ago, law and order was well established in Scotland and there were courts to deal with any serious miscreants. However, at the local level the Kirk and their Session Clerks acted as the community law keepers. They investigated, recorded and punished such sins as swearing, gossiping and Sabbath-breaking, and were particularly concerned with the sexual behaviour of the congregation.
If the Kirk Session found someone guilty in matters of public morality they could order them to be dressed in sack-cloth and to sit on the stool of repentance, an uncomfortable stool so high that their feet could not touch the ground, to be publicly rebuked by the minister, from the pulpit, in front of the congregation. For lesser offences this might take place on one or two Sundays but more serious offenders were ordered to 'the place of public repentance' each Sunday for several months.
An alternative punishment involved being publicly shamed and abused by being placed in the jougs, a lockable iron neck-collar which was chained to the church wall, or gate post.
A few extracts from the Session records of Arbuthnott in Kincardineshire will give some idea of the quite appalling sins that people got up to in those days!
Consider first the scandalous case of the man who dared use his tape measure on the sabbath.
July 12, 1668.
David Watt dilated (accused) for Sabbath breaking, in that he measured the length and breadth of his house on the Lord's Day, gets a penalty of a seat on the repentance stool for his pains.
And then we come across the case of Katherine Bran, who was, to all accounts, a dedicated fornicator.
June 17, 1655
Katherine Bran compeared (appeared) before the session, and now acknowledges that John Sherrrat is the father of her child. Note, She had twice before this examined on the subject but gave evasive answers. John Sherrat sat three Sundays on the repenting stool for this.
October 3, 1658
Katherine Bran again on the repentance stool for fornication, as also her paramour David Young.
May 3, 1663.
Katherine Bran, after 12 days sitting on the repentance stool, is absolved.
Katherine Bran, of merry mood, again dilated (accused) for her old prank of fornication. She is ordained to stand with her neck in the jugs (sic), between the second and third bells ringing, and after to sit on the repentance stool in sackcloth. All this she went through for 14 Sundays in succession, which seemed to have cured her.