Archaeologists have discovered pieces of what is believed to be a monastic copper scourge in the grounds of Rufford Abbey – one of only four in the country.
Scourges, whips or cat-o-nine-tails – were woven copper-alloy wires
braided together used by people in the Middle Ages to chastise
themselves. They perhaps saw it being a way of cleansing the soul or
self-punishment for society’s sins, and were popular after the
devastation of the Black Death.
The Black Death plague ravaged the country from 1348, and put an end to
prosperity at Rufford and the Abbey went into decline. It is possible
that the Cistercian monks used the scourges in this period in an attempt
to keep the Black Death at bay, or for the mortification of the human
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