Scottish Maiden - Early Form of Guillotine

The Scottish Maiden was introduced during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1564. Currently maintained by the Museum of Scotland, in Edinburgh, it was last used circa 1718. We would call this beheading device a guillotine.

We learn more about this form of execution—which was used long before the French Revolution—from the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquities of Scotland:

The Scottish machine is made of oak and consists of a sole beam 5 feet in length into which are fixed two upright posts 10 feet in height, 4 inches broad and 12 inches apart from each other, and 3 1/2 inches in thickness, with beveled corners. These posts are kept steady by a brace at each side which springs from the end of the sole and is fastened to the uprights 4 feet from the bottom.

The tops of the posts are fixed into a cross rail 2 feet in length. The block is a transverse bar 3 1/4 feet from the bottom, 8 inches in breadth and 4 1/2 inches in thickness, and a hollow on the upper edge of this bar is filled with lead...

The axe consists of a plate of iron faced with steel; it measures 13 inches in length and 10 1/2 inches in breadth. On the upper edge of the plate was fixed a mass of lead 75 lbs in weight. This blade works in grooves cut on the inner edges of the uprights, which are lined with copper..." -- (From the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquities of Scotland, Vol.III, 1886-8.)

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Media Credits

Kim Traynor via Wikimedia Commons. License:  CC BY-SA 3.0


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"Scottish Maiden - Early Form of Guillotine" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 06, 2017. Feb 19, 2020.
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