Gallows were thus widely used for public weighing scales for large objects such as sacks of grain or minerals, usually positioned in markets or toll gates. In modern usage it has come to mean almost exclusively a scaffold or gibbet used for execution by hanging. Public weighing gallows were often large permanent tripods in market squares, posts and cross beams, or a cantilevered beam projecting from the side of a building adjoining a market or toll gate or point, usually with a fixed hook for supporting the weighing scales. This points to the earlier execution style in which a person sentenced to death had been tied to a bent-down tree and then released.
Occasionally, improvised gallows were used, usually by hanging the condemned from a tree or street light. Hangings from such improvised gallows are usually lynchings rather than judicial executions. In Afghanistan, the Taliban used football goals as gallows.
Gallows may be permanent to act as a deterrent and grim symbol of the power of high justice the French word for gallows, potence , stems from the Latin word potentia , meaning "power". Many old prints of European cities show such a permanent gallows erected on a prominent hill outside the walls, or more commonly near the castle or other seat of justice.
In the modern era the gallows were often installed inside a prison; freestanding on a scaffold in the yard, erected at ground level over a pit, enclosed in a small shed of stone, brick or wood, built into the gallery of a prison wing with the beam resting in brackets on opposite walls , or in a purpose-built execution suite of rooms within the wing. Gallows can also be temporary. In some of the cases, they were even moved to the location of the crime. In England, pirates were typically executed using a temporary gallows, at low tide in the intertidal zone , then left for the sea to wash over them during the following high tides.
The gallows were portable and were set up at the gaol jail when needed. These gallows were first used in to hang two burglars. The New Drop design was not very effective as the drop was too short to break the neck cleanly. If a crime took place inside, gallows were sometimes erected—and the criminal hanged—at the front door. In some cases of multiple offenders it was not uncommon to erect multiple temporary gallows, with one noose per condemned criminal.
In one case a condemned strangled to death in agony for forty minutes until he finally died from asphyxiation. Hanging people from early gallows sometimes involved fitting the noose around the person's neck while he or she was on a ladder or in a horse-drawn cart underneath. Removing the ladder or driving the cart away left the person dangling by the neck to slowly strangle.
Later, a "scaffold" with a trapdoor tended to be used, so victims dropped down and died quickly from a broken neck rather than through strangulation , especially if extra weights were fixed to their ankles. During the era of public execution in London , England, a prominent gallows stood at Tyburn , on what is now Marble Arch.
Later executions occurred outside Newgate Prison , where the Old Bailey now stands. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the execution device. For other uses, see Gallows disambiguation. For the folk song, see The Gallows Tree. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Ulfilas, apostle of the Goths: together with an account of the Gothic churches and their decline.
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