See caption
Jougs hanging by the door of the weigh-house at Ceres, Fife
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Jougs are iron collars formerly used as an instrument of punishment in Scotland. When locked around the victim’s neck they were analogous to the pilloryDevice used to publicly humiliate those found guilty of minor offences., as the collar was attached by a chain to a wall or post; surviving examples can still be seen near the doors of some Scottish churches today.[1] But their use was not confined to churches; the Clachan Oak, an ancient sessile oak near Balfron in Stirlingshire, can still be seen bearing metal bands around its trunk, to which jougs were once attached.[2]

Used as a punishment for those considered to have sinned against the church and state, jougs also served as a warning to the rest of the community not to behave in a similar fashion.[3] It seems that in some communities jougs were used quite frequently, as in the parish of Dundonald, which with a population of fewer than 1000 recorded 77 cases in 1605 alone, about 8 per cent of those living in the parish.[4]

The term jougs derives from the French joug or Latin jugum, meaning “yoke”.[5]



Gordon, Anne. “Death and Burial.” Oxford Companion to Scottish History, edited by Michael Lynch, Online, Oxford University Press, 2007,
OED. “Jougs, n.” Oxford English Dictionary, Online, Oxford  University Press, 2022,
Rodger, Donald, et al. Heritage Trees of Scotland. Tree Council, 2006.
Staff writer. “Jougs.” Internet Archaelogy, no. 30, May 2011,