You may have heard of the Salem Witch Trials, also known as the Burning Times. But while being burned at the stake is an awful method of torture that was used to execute Witches during these times, it was not the only one.

Accused Witches were tied up in a big sack which was then strung up by a tree limb. Once up, the sack would be pushed so that it would swing. The swinging made the accused Witch disoriented, so they were more likely to admit to being a Witch... whether they were or not. Most suffered from hallucinations, which added more "flavor" to their story.

This was used on Witches accused of being "impregnated by Satan". The Witch would be hung by her feet, upside down, with her legs spread apart. Then they would take a saw and cut her in two from the vagina to the head. The victim usually wouldn't lose consciousness until the saw reached her navel. But some still stayed alive until the saw reached her heart.

In Germany and France the wheel was a popular form of capital punishment for men. The wheel resembles a big spool of thread. The prisoner was stripped, and the man was tied and stretched around the wheel. The wheel was then rolled around slowly, crushing him. Once the prisoner was on the verge of death, the executioner would roll the wheel up so that spectators could watch the him die. If the death took too long, it bored the onlookers, so the man received mass blows to the chest until he finally died.

This device was used to tear out a person's fingernails. Afterwards the tender spot was often stabbed with needles.

This is a long wooden pole with either string or metal attached to it which went around the victim's neck and fastened them to the pole. A metal spike or knife on the pole was drilled into the back of their neck. This parted the vertebrae, causing a slow and painful death.

Some believed that a Witch's power could be overcome. Convicted Witches were slashed over the nose and mouth. This was supposed to "drain her power". It also often made them bleed to death.

This was one of the most common methods. It was believed by some that boiling the blood of a Witch would drain her power. St. Augustine declared that

"Heretics, Pagans, and Jews would burn forever in eternal fire unless saved by the Catholic Church."

So, partially because of this statement, the burning at the stake was introduced to give the victim a taste of what was coming. The burning of a Witch was a great public affair. The execution took place just after the trial. In Scotland, a Witch burning was followed by solemn preaching and days of fasting.
In Germany, Scotland, and France expenses for the supplies of the trial, the stay in jail, and the burning were billed to the victims' families. Records in Scotland reported that to burn a Witch, 16 loads of peat, wood, and coal was consumed.

The victim's legs were placed between two planks of wood, which were bound together by cords. Between the planks, they placed wedges covered in metal spikes. The planks were hit with a hammer so that the wedges would squeeze the legs, breaking the bones. This device would cripple the victim and they would die a short time after.

Mainly women got this punishment. The victim be strapped to a chair, which was hung from a dipping contraption. The chair would then be dunked into a local river or lake. Many women instantly died from the shock of the cold water. The dunking could last for a few seconds or all day.
The dunking stool was used in America for Witches, and in Britain for prostitutes, trouble makers, and minor offenders.

This was considered a way to find out if the accused was truly a Witch. The right thumb was tied to the left toe. The victim was then thrown into a pond or lake. If they floated, it "proved" that they were a Witch, because they must have used the magic to stay afloat. If the victim drowned, it meant they were innocent. However, in this position, the victim was most likely to float. Either way, they were doomed.

Red hot or freezing metal claws ripped the breast or testicles of the accused.

The Pear was inserted in either the mouth, rectum or vagina. The screw on the back of the pear caused it to expand until fully opened. As a result, the inside of the cavity was torn apart. There were sharp tips on the end of each section of the pear which made it easier to tear the cavity. They often used this on women who they thought had sexual union with the devil or his familiars.

The Iron Maiden is an upright tomb-sized container with folding doors. The inside of the doors were covered in long spikes. The victim was placed inside. When the door was shut the spikes would stab the length of the victims body. This did not kill the victim instantly, but caused a slow and painful death.

A sharply pointed stake was forced into the person's anus and was forced until it came out through the skull or throat. Or a small stake was used and forced permanently into the anus and the victim was left to crawl instead of walk until they died.

This is a collar with an iron rod attached. The rod had four sharp points on one end. The rod was fitted between the chin and the sternum (the "v" shape under your neck where the chest plate begins). The fork prevented any movement of the head and dug into the victim's sternum.

This is a sharp pyramid which the person was set upon. The point would either be set in the anus, vagina, under the scrotum, or under the coccyx. The victim was then weighed down with weights so that the sharp point would slowly dig into them.

Info from Punishment, Torture, and Ordeal copyright Shantell Powell.