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(which meant the castle had a constant flow of goods and vitals flowing into the coffers) all this produce was stored in the lower basement, or traded on for much needed currency. This meant the castle was virtually self sustaining with fresh produce. The level of taxation levied was of such an exorbitant rate (around 95%) that the population was often forced under the threat of torture, or worse, to pay taxation that expeditions were accompanied by heavily armed Rievers to collect this. The Great Hall also served as a local court to settle disputes between the Lairds subjects. We have an idea today that we are very litigious; however at the time taking a dispute to the Laird for judgment was a common occurrence. Courts were held on a regular basis. Evidence was presented, statements recorded and the court presided over by the Laird, with assistance from scribes (Highly educated individuals who would offer advice and record every form of business activity in the castle in long hand on parchment or vellum) Criminal courts were also conducted within the Hall. The Laird had ultimate jurisdiction over his estates, as there were no functioning alternatives at the time. Punishment was often swift and harsh. Once convicted the condemned were often executed within days. Once dispatched their body proved extremely useful, and was strung up for display within the Gibbet or Iron Maiden as a very public and direct warning to others. Today a gibbet hangs on a chain over the 17th Century cobbled courtyard to the west of the Keep. Although execution was common, reserved for capital crimes (which at the time included theft) the majority of sentences passed were of a punitive nature. Most punishments at the time involved a degree of humiliation and were conducted in full view of the local population. Various forms were employed, the most common being confined to the Gibbet, or Iron Maiden. The guilty were stripped and placed in this extremely cruel and humiliating iron cage for a predetermined period (Conviction for gossiping in church would render the convicted three days in this device) Gibbets were placed at very visible location, within markets, (often bolted onto market crosses), at crossroads or bridges; whilst every town entrance and castle had one. The sight of Gibbets would have been almost as common as we view traffic lights today. Around the walls at ceiling level are some fine examples of stone carved corbels, bearing arms of families connected with the Murrays through intermarriage. Above the fireplace is an early 15th century Scottish Royal coat of arms, depicting two supporting unicorns. All these carvings were at one time highlighted with coloured paint but are now worn with some completely unreadable. It must be remembered that at some time in the 17th Century when the castle was almost abandoned that the roof was removed to save taxation, and not replaced until the 1880’s. This allowed the elements in and has destroyed the floors, ceilings, plasterwork and 12


comlongon_history
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