St. Patrick's day is coming up, so we are going to take a good look at it's history by counting down some of the most bloody torture techniques inflicted in the land.
The ancient Celts of Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Germany, and all the other places they settled held trees as being sacred. The birch tree represented justice and it was also in their tree zodiac system. People born under the sign of the birch were destined to become leaders. Because the tree represented justice, or maybe it come to mean justice because of this, they would publicly flog criminals with primitive whips made by tying branches of the tree together. If they lived in a place where they could not find a birch tree, another tree such as willow or oak was a substitute. Historians and archaeologists have found evidence of the Celts living throughout all of Europe. Some people believe they might've travelled to North America.
Just like most other countries spanning a huge time period, the ancient and medieval Irish practiced hanging. The victim would stand on a hinged board on a balcony, have a noose tied around their neck, and then be pushed off to strangle to death in front of a large crowd of jeering people. The slang term for the victim was "fall of the leaf" with the "leaf" describing the victim. In Tyburn, England, people stood on barrels to have their noose tied or they stood over a trap door, and then the barrels were kicked underneath them or the trap door was released. One famous female Irish rebel was executed in Tyburn. Hannah Dagoe was a woman ahead of her time. She was a feminist, loud, fierce, spicy, and strongly believed the Irish should not be subjugated by the British. She had flaming red hair and strong leadership skills women were not supposed to have at the time. She led a failed revolt against the British and was brought to Tyburn for her execution. She kicked, screamed, and fought with the executioner as she was dragged out of the cart and to the scaffold. She struggled against her ropes until she was free. She ran around, took off her clothes, and threw them at the audience who cheered for her. She was the badass anti-hero of her time. She was finally subdued by several men who held her down. They got bruises for days in the process. They finally tied her up and hanged her, but it took hours.
3. The Wicker Man
Ever see the movie The Wicker Man? I've only ever seen the ending of it. I'm more familiar with what the history books say about it. It was a large humanoid-shaped cage that was designed to house about twenty to fifty people inside. It was completely made out of wood, and was set on fire, burning the people inside. There is not a lot of historical documentation of it, suggesting it did not happen very often. Some historians believe the Romans invented the stories of it to disgrace the Celts, because they were arch enemies. However, most if not all ancient cultures practiced some form of human sacrifice and it's plausible this device existed. The reasons for its lack of documentation would be because the Romans destroyed much of Celtic literature and culture when they conquered them.
2. Blood Eagle
This was invented by the ancient Vikings and was generally only practiced by them as human sacrifice or execution, but the Vikings pillaged Ireland and brought it with them. An unknown Celtic writer who witnessed the execution wrote this: "with a butcher's aplomb they spread out your lungs and made you warm wings for your shoulders." In case you didn't understand that, the Viking conquerors cut vertical slits into the victim's back on either side of the spine. They would then push their rib cage forward until it broke and pulled out the liver. The victim would then either suffocate to death or go into shock and die. It was called blood eagle because the liver throbs could look like an eagle wing's flapping. The liver might also be pulled to drape across the shoulders so the victim's silhouette could resemble a perched eagle. The poor Celts must've been very traumatized.
1. Pitchcapping, also called Cropping.
The ancient English invented this torture in Ireland during an English-Irish war over a millennia ago. Only the Irish were documented to be victimized like this. A metal cone would be filled with hot tar or pitch, placed on a victim's head like a hat, and allowed to cool. Then the cone would be ripped off, taking the scalp with it, exposing the skull. This is the most severe form of scalping ever documented. It took hours or days for the victim to die. One victim was said to bang his head on a wall because of the pain. He ended up knocking himself out unconscious where he then succumbed to death. It was the most popular way for the ancient English to dispose of Irish rebels, so Irish rebels were called croppies. They were continuously executed this way until the Irish won independence from the United Kingdom. A person who was bald on top with hair on the sides and back of the head was called a croppy because it reminded people of the execution. There was a sad 18th century Irish folk song called The Croppy Boy written by Carroll Malone (born William B. McBurney). It was written in 1845 to commemorate the Uprising of 1798. It tells the story of a rebel who stops by a church on his way to battle to make a confession. The priest reveals himself to be a British soldier who then arrests him and executes him as a traitor. Here are the lyrics:
Twas early, early in the spring,
the birds did whistle and sweetly sing,
changing their notes from tree to tree,
and the song they sang was "Old Ireland Free."
Twas early, early in the night,
the yeoman calvary gave me a fright.
The yeoman calvary was my downfall,
and taken was I by the Lord Cornwall.
As in the guard house where I was laid,
and in the parlor where I was tried.
My sentence passed and my courage low,
when to Dungannon I was forced to go.
As I was passing my father's door,
my brother William stood at the door,
my aged father stood there also,
my tender mother her hair she tore.
As I was going up Wexford Hill,
who could blame by to cry my fill?
I looked behind and I looked before,
my aged mother I shall see no more.
As I was mounted on the scaffold high,
my aged father was standing by.
My aged father did me deny,
and the name he gave me was the croppy boy.
Twas in the Dungannon this young man died,
and in Dungannon his body lies.
And you good people that do pass by,
oh, shed a tear for the croppy boy.
There are other versions of this song that are longer, but I don't know them as well. I listed these gruesome tortures from what I believe would be least painful to most. The wicker man one would probably depend on where inside it I would be. If I'm in the head then I would suffocate on the smoke before the flames could reach me. If I'm somehow still alive by the time the whole structure collapses, then I would probably die on impact.