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Title: The Landscape of the Gibbet
Authors: Tarlow, Sarah
Dyndor, Zoe
First Published: 30-Apr-2015
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Citation: Landscape History, 2015, 36 (1), pp. 71-88
Abstract: From the Murder Act of 1752 until the Anatomy Act of 1832 it was forbidden to bury the bodies of executed murderers unless they had first been anatomised or 'hung in chains' (gibbeted). This paper considers some of the observations of the Wellcome-funded project 'Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse' as they relate to the practice of gibbeting. The nature of hanging in chains is briefly described before an extensive discussion of the criteria by which gibbets, which often remained standing for many decades, were selected. These are: proximity to the scene of crime, visibility, and practicality. Exceptions, in the forms of those sentenced by the Admiralty Courts, and those sentenced in and around London, are briefly considered. Hanging in chains was an infrequent punishment (anatomical dissection was far more frequently practised) but it was the subject of huge public interest and attracted thousands of people. There was no specified time for which a body should remain hanging, and the gibbet often became a known landmark and a significant place in the landscape. There is a remarkable contrast between anatomical dissection, which obliterates and anonymises the body of the individual malefactor, and hanging in chains, which leaves a highly personalised and enduring imprint on the actual and imaginative landscape.
DOI Link: 10.1080/01433768.2015.1044284
ISSN: 0143-3768
eISSN: 2160-2506
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2015. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Archaeology and Ancient History

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