Drawing of 'The Maiden' in use

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Postcard of Drawing of 'The Maiden' in use.
© National Museums Scotland

Drawing of 'The Maiden' in use

This is a mid-19th-century interpretation of a beheading machine called 'The Maiden' in use. The drawing, by James Skene, is included in a collection of Edinburgh images by Daniel Wilson (1816-1892), a prominent Edinburgh antiquarian and anthropologist.

The drawing shows an execution using 'The Maiden' in Edinburgh's Parliament Square. Between 1564 and 1710, the Maiden was used to carry out around 100 public executions in Edinburgh.

The Maiden was operated by a lever at the back. This lever held a rope which was attached to the blade via a pulley at the top. When the lever was pressed, the rope was released and the blade fell.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-001-334-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.MR 1
Date: 1564 - 1710
Mid 19th century
Material: Wood and metal
Dimensions: 4000 mm H x 3000 mm x 3000 mm
What: Guillotine / maiden
Subject: Instruments, of torture (NMAS Classification)
Where: Scotland, Midlothian, Edinburgh
Description: Instrument used for beheading criminals in Edinburgh, called the Maiden, 1564 -1710
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