(photo: Jecini Colorizations)
Scold’s Bridle from Armagh Jail – Ireland. early 1900s – a woman sitting with the bridle over her face, to stop her from speaking.
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. 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 as a compress. This prevented speaking and resulted in many unpleasant side effects for the wearer, including excessive salivation and fatigue in the mouth.
First recorded in Scotland in 1567, the branks were also used in England and its colonies. The kirk-sessions and barony courts in Scotland inflicted the contraption mostly on female transgressors and women considered to be rude, nags or common scolds.