What was with the Middle Ages and terrifying torture devices? Seriously, if the "Saw" movies had somehow been shot during the medieval times, they'd be exponentially more horrifying. For any particular kind of pain torturers were wishing to inflict -- unnatural stretching, digital damage, slow suffocation -- there was a medieval device out there for the job. One case in point: The Scold's Bridle*.
This lovely German contraption dating from 1550 to 1800 comes courtesy of the Science Museum London (via Neotorama via BoingBoing). The mask was specifically reserved for a "rude, clamorous woman," aka a scold. As the Science Museum explains:
"The bridle was used as a punishment for women considered to be spending too much time gossiping or quarreling. Time spent in the bridle was normally allocated as a punishment by a local magistrate. The custom developed in Britain in the 1500s, and spread to some other European countries, including Germany. When wearing the mask it was impossible to speak. This example has a bell on top to draw even more attention to the wearer, increasing their humiliation. It was used until the early 1800s as a punishment in workhouses."
*Thanks to Julie from Stuff to Blow Your Mind for the medieval torture tip!