Oakham Stocks – A quirky remnant of punishments from the Middle-Ages.

A few days ago I went to see a dear friend of mine in Oakham, a little market town in the once abolished and now restored count of Oakham.

There are lots of good reasons to visit Oakham and its nearby Rutland Water lake but one of the things I enjoyed seeing the most apart from my friend was an old set of Stocks which are in the old Buter Market.

The old Buttermarket in Oakham

At one times Stocks could be found all over the country and were used for at least 500 years people for crimes such as swearing or drunkenness. Criminals would sit or stand at a wooden frame and the local people would throw rotten food at them which was both a good punishment for the perpetrators and a for the victims to get a good old bit of revenge off their chests.

If one was fortunate then it would be made clear that only soft foods could be used, otherwise locals might throw the odd stone. Even a few well aimed potatoes might kill someone or at the very least as my mother would have said, it won’t do you much good.

However the purpose of this punishment wasn’t to hurt people, there were all ready a multitude of options for that. Instead it was to shame the miscreants.

The medieval stocks

These stocks are a little unusual in that there are five holes whilst most only have have two or four. The Romans used fives holes as they were more extreme and people would have their arms, legs and head constrained

However these stocks are likely Medieval in origin. It is likely that on any given day two men sat with both legs through the holes. The hole in the middle could be used for women or children to put both their legs in one hole so that they could not wriggle themselves free.

Apparently Stocks have never officially been brought off the statue books but rather have simply fallen out of favour. Don’t you think it would make a great punishment for the corrupt, incompetent politician of your choice? Not naming any names, Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Oliver Dowden!

You can see another another beautiful Butter Market, which given the subject of todays post, is very fitting for political criminals Good reasons to visit Barnard Castle! But maybe not now Dominic Cummings

If shaming and public humiliation isn’t quite enough then you might like one of my books….

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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