Finger pillory

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A finger pillory is a style of restraint where the fingers are held in a wooden block, using an L-shaped hole to keep the knuckle bent inside the block. The name is taken from the pillory, a much larger device used to secure the head and hands.

Finger pillories operate on a slightly different principle than their larger cousins. In addition to the familiar semicircular cut-outs, the lower stock has vertical holes in which the first two joints of the finger are inserted. Once the stocks are closed, the finger (which is bent at the middle joint) cannot be removed. It was sufficient to imprison only the index or middle finger of each hand in this manner.

Finger stocks were routinely used in upper class halls to punish the disorderly during social gatherings, and to discipline servants. A particularly fine example can be found in Littlecote Hall, Berkshire, England. These stocks are still regularly used on unruly diners during contemporary medieval banquets.

Finger stocks were also used in churches for minor offences, like not paying attention during a sermon. An example still survives in the parish church of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, England.

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