Gaol and Pillory

Dublin Core


Gaol and Pillory


Public Gaol (Williamsburg, Va.)
Block 27. Building 02.
Historic buildings -- Virginia -- Williamsburg
Public buildings -- Virginia -- Williamsburg
Architecture, Colonial - Virginia - Williamsburg


Exterior view of the Public Gaol and pillory, 1933. Opened as an exhibition building in April 1936, the Public Gaol is one of eighty-eight original buildings in the Historic Area that have been restored to their eighteenth-century appearance. "In its present form, the Public Gaol has three rooms on the first floor -- a hall and chamber for the gaoler and his family and a cell at the rear for debtors -- and 'chambers' in the attic for the gaoler's use and the confinement of prisoners."

The pillory - "or 'stretch-neck,' called 'the essence of punishment' in England - stood in the main squares of towns up and down the colonies. An upright board, hinged or divided in half with a hole in which the head was set fast, it usually also had two openings for the hands. Often the ears of the subject were nailed to the wood on either side of the head hole."

(Sources: on the Public Gaol, see Michael Olmert and Suzanne Coffman, Official Guide to Colonial Williamsburg [Williamsburg, VA: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2007], 74; on the pillory, see Colonial Williamsburg Foundation website, "Bilboes, Brands, and Branks: Colonial Crimes and Punishments," Colonial Williamsburg Journal (Spring 2003) <> (accessed 14 March 2014).




Shaw, Thomas Mott



Date Created



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Rights Holder

Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Graphite on paper

Physical Dimensions

31 x 45 cm


Shaw, Thomas Mott, “Gaol and Pillory,” John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, accessed July 6, 2022,