A scold’s bridle, sometimes called a brank’s bridle or simply branks, was an instrument of punishment used primarily on women, as a form of torture and public humiliation. First introduced by the Church of Scotland in 1567, the device saw use across Europe and the New World until the mid 18th century.
The device was an iron muzzle in an iron framework that enclosed the head. A bridle-bit, about 2 inches long and 1 inch broad, projected into the mouth and pressed down on top of the tongue. The curb-plate was frequently studded with spikes, so that if the offender moved her tongue, it inflicted pain and made speaking impossible. Woman who were seen as witches, shrews and scolds, were forced to wear the branks, locked onto their head.