Open main menu

Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/183

This page needs to be proofread.


the head of a barrister named Layer, who had been executed for a Jacobite conspiracy soon after Atterbury's plot.

The stone balls that adorn the gateposts into a manorial park actually, it is believed, represent heads, and were set up to show that the lord of that manor possessed right to pronounce capital sentences. But now they are on the gateposts of every petty suburban villa. At Görlitz, north of the Riesen Gebirge, in the marketplace above the town hail, are iron rods or spikes; halfway up each is a ball, to represent a head that has fallen under the sword of the city executioner. When I was a boy at Pau, in the South of France, there was a house in the Grande Place that had been erected by a retired executioner who had had lively times during the Reign of Terror. Along the front was a balustrade for a parapet, and at intervals stone balls, and these were said to represent the number of heads that he had cut off with the guillotine.

Although among the Aryans human sacrifice was not common, I do not find any evidence that the heads of the victims were made use of as ornaments. This was a privilege reserved for warriors who had fallen in battle. Nor were slaves decapitated