Procesul vrăjitoarelor: Scaunele de scufundare

Cucking and Ducking Stools in British History

Cucking and Ducking Stools in British History

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Cucking and ducking stools, known in Romanian as “scăunele de biciuire” și “scăunele de cufundare”, were popular forms of punishment in Britain from the 13th to the 17th century. Cucking stools were used to socially humiliate people for minor infractions, such as women gossiping too much or dishonest tradesmen. The word “cucking” comes from the Saxon term “cucking stool”, meaning literally “defecating chair”, as they were originally modified commodes which were a covered chamber pot in a wooden seat.

The Cucking Stool

In the cucking stool punishment, the culprit would be paraded through their own town or village strapped to a stool that was either carried around on planks or on a wheeled carriage. The aim was to degrade them into feeling ashamed of their actions.

The Ducking Stool

The ducking stool was a 16th and 17th-century form of punishment derived from the earlier cucking stool. The ducking stool punishment would always end in the ducking of the guilty person in water, often repeatedly in front of a large crowd.


Dunking was a more serious version of this and was a trial by ordeal. When a woman was suspected of being a witch, they often used dunking as a test of her guilt or innocence. The suspect was tied to a wooden or iron chair, sometimes surrounded by a simple but sturdy iron cage, and then lowered into the water, usually a river or pond.

The End of Cucking and Ducking Stools

The last recorded case of a ducking stool being used was in 1817, when Sarah Leake was going to be ducked in the local pond, but as the water was so low, they instead just wheeled her about the town for a while in a chair.

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