The Scold's bridle

First recorded in Scotland in 1567, altough also used in both England and her colonies, a scold's bridle, sometimes called a witch's bridle, a brank's bridle, or simply branks, was an instrument of punishment, as a form of torture and public humiliation. This device was overwhelmingly used on female victims and functioned to silence the victim from speaking entirely. It caused extreme pain and also physiological trauma in order to scare and intimidate the wearer into submission. It was often done so upon request from husbands or other family members. The device was an iron muzzle in an iron framework that enclosed the head (although some bridles were masks that depicted suffering). A bridle-bit (or curb-plate), about 2 in × 1 in (5.1 cm × 2.5 cm) in size, was slid into the mouth and pressed down on top of the tongue, often with a spike on the tongue, as a compress. This prevented speaking and resulted in many unpleasant side effects for the wearer, including excessive salivation and fatigue in the mouth. It was also used as corporal punishment for other offences, notably on female workhouse inmates. The person to be punished was placed in a public place for additional humiliation and sometimes beaten. Though primarily used on women, the Burgh Records of Scotland's major towns reveal that the branks were at times used on men as well. When the branks was placed on the "gossiper's" head, they could be led through town to show that they had committed an offence or scolded too often. This was intended to humiliate them into "repenting" their "riotous" actions. A spike inside the gag prevented any talking since any movement of the mouth could cause a severe piercing of the tongue. When wearing the device, it was impossible for the person either to eat or speak. Other branks included an adjustable gag with a sharp edge, causing any movement of the mouth to result in laceration of the tongue. #History