It still carries the name of the man whose body hung from its ramparts as a gruesome reminder to the medieval period’s brutal way of dealing with crime and punishment.
And visitors to Clifford’s Tower in York throughout the summer are being given an insight into some of the savage punishments that were handed out.
The tower’s moniker started off as a nickname, when Roger de Clifford was executed – his body was then hung in chains on the walls as a warning of the fate awaiting anyone who committed treason against Edward II.
A hangman returned to the landmark at the weekend when historic re-enactor John White donned the mantle of medieval executioner Gilbert Savage to tell tales of the severe punishments for even the most modest of crimes.
English Heritage’s regional events manager, Jon Hogan, said: “In medieval England, there was no such thing as a caution – even the smallest crimes warranted a severe punishment.”
Offenders faced the pillory or stocks for a first offence of minor theft. For subsequent offences, the punishment would be more severe – and offenders who were caught a third time faced the gallows.
The weekend’s events marked the start of Clifford’s Tower’s “Time Travellers Go… Gruesome” season.
Source: Yorkshire Post