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The Scottish Maiden

THE SCOTTISH MAIDEN was an instrument of capital punishment formerly in use in Scotland. It is said to have been invented by the earl of Morton, who is also said to have been its first victim. This, however, could not have been the case, as the maiden was first used at the execution of the inferior agents in the assassination of Rizzio (1561) and Morton was not beheaded till 1581. The maiden was practically an early form of guillotine. A loaded blade or axe moving in grooves was fixed in a frame about ten feet high. The axe was raised to the full height of the frame and then released, severing the victim's head from his body. At least 120 suffered death by the maiden, including the regent Morton, Sir John Gordon of Haddo, President Spottiswpod, the marquis and earl of Argyll. In 1710 it ceased to be used; it is now preserved in the museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, in Edinburgh.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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