THE nature of crime and punishment seems to have been at the forefront of the hotly-debated concerns of societies down the centuries - and last week’s Craven Curiosity, pictured below, seems to hark back to simpler times.

The now overgrown - but still recognisable - set of stocks can be found near Kildwick Church.

Regular Curiosities contributor Cath Cooney points out: “This is a set of stocks used to punish people accused of petty crimes popular in the 17th century.

“Prisoners were sat behind it with their legs resting on the indents shown on the bottom stone.

“Then a wooden slat was pulled down over their arms to fix the prisoners firmly in place.

“The prisoners were left for however long the magistrate decided. Often the prisoners had items of old food etc thrown at them.

“There is a set of stocks at Thorton-In-Craven. These stocks look to be set in front of a church.”

Stocks, with their useful double function of allowing criminals to be restrained and suffer public humiliation at the same time, were in use for several hundred years in Britain.

Every town and village in England was decreed to need set of stocks from as early as the 12th century, and the last recorded use of them in Britain was in 1872.

The offender was subjected to whatever punishment passers-by could dream up - with the tickling of naked and restrained feet apparently commonplace.

Those featured here sit - perhaps rather incongruously - right outside the churchyard in Kildwick, presumably placed there as at the time the church would have been at the centre of public life in the village.

This week’s Craven Curiosity is pictured above - what is it and where can it be found?

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