Whip used by self-flagellating monks in bid to ward off Black Death


The remains of a medieval whip used by monks to chastise themselves have been discovered.

Archaeologists unearthed pieces from what is believed to be a monastic copper scourge in the grounds of Rufford Abbey, Nottinghamshire in 2014.

But the significance of the artefacts - which are thought to date from the second half of the 14th century - have only just been confirmed.

It is thought the devices could have been used by monks to ward off the Black Death through self-flagellation and is believed to be one of four of its kind in the country.

A similar metal scourge is on display at Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire, and others have been found in La Grava, Bedfordshire, and Roche Abbey in South Yorkshire.

The pieces of the scourge were uncovered during a dig underneath the meadow at the abbey in the north of the county.

Nottinghamshire County Council community archaeologists Emily Gillott and Lorraine Horsley made the potential connection between the remains and the scourge in Rievaulx Abbey.

Medieval specialist Glyn Coppack said: "There must be a number of unidentified scourges from monastic excavations, but apart from the one from La Grava I have not seen any others myself.

"I suspect they are very rare indeed, and this is an exceptional find."