Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Greenock Jougs

Once upon a time, at the bottom of Broad Close in Shaw Street in Greenock there was a thatched house that served as the town gaol.  Daniel Weir in his "History of the Town of Greenock" (1829) describes it as "an ill-looking thatched house of one story, and consequently one apartment".  From the walls of the building hung the jougs (or jugs) - an iron collar attached to the wall by a stout iron chain.  This representation of the jougs can be seen on a wall off Cathcart Street (east end) in Greenock where the Broad Close once ran down to Shaw Street which (neither still exist).

In Scotland, the jougs were used both for detention of wrongdoers and also as a punishment.  Offenders would be secured in the collar and left to the mercies of the local population who hurled abuse, and heaven only knows what else, at the miscreants.  Jougs were often attached to churches and town tollbooths. They acted as deterrent as well as a punishment.  Another set of jougs could be found at the West Quay head in Greenock - handy for errant sailors!

In the Ayrshire town of Kilmaurs, the jougs can still be seen attached to the Tollbooth in the centre of the town.


  1. They didn't mess about when it came to punishing miscreants in those days!

  2. Cruel times back then compared to today's standards.
    Very interesting read.

  3. I've seen loads over on the east coast of Scotland but didn't know about any in the west. Dundee's museum (the old one in the city centre) has a nice collection of metal head envelopers for women that nagged their husbands too much and other serious crimes- gossip's bridles, witches' mutes with a handy tongue spike included in the design to stop curses landing on victims walking past and the 'scold cage punisher' gives you some idea of the times. Ah, The good old days before women got the vote :o)


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