Human Head Encased in an Iron Cage
It’s been a while since I posted anything quite so macabre as this but the image of a group of boys making this grim discovery as they played in the sands at Hempstead, L.I., in the mid-1930s, had a grim allure for some reason. Perhaps because of its links with the golden age of piracy.
According to Corbis Images the cage is ‘evidence of an early pirates’ torture device,’ namely, gibbeting. In the earliest recorded examples of gibbeting from the 17th century, the criminal would be bound in the metal cage and hung from a scaffold until they died of starvation, and it was a popular method of execution for piracy, highwaymen, murderers, and… sheep stealers. The positioning of such a structure next to public roads served as a warning to other potential criminals that they too might suffer the same fate.