What is the history and significance of the Hangman's Noose?

I’ve often wondered about the most common form of execution in history and recently got to thinking about how someone came up with the idea of the hangman’s noose knot, its use for hanging, and the significance of eight or thirteen coils or what have you.

Does it have any relation to the need to break the neck in order to perform a “humane” execution as opposed to slow strangulation?

I realize it’s a morbid topic, but finding information about the origin of the Hangman’s Noose seems a bit difficult on the net for me.

M. Gray

as far as I’ve ever read, the slipping knot was used as the ‘humane’ way of execution as it broke the spinal cord. I don’t know about the origin of the thirteen knots, or the supposed thirteen steps up to the gallows platform. But the 13 story or hidden meaning is a whole new can of worms to be explored as to why it appears in so many prominent places…

The knot most usually associated with judicial execution is actually wrong, although it may used in other froms such as lynchings.

In the UK, the actual fact of death was the punishment, rather than in some nations where the process of death is also part of the punishment.

I read Albert Pierrepoint autobiography (UKs most prolofic hangman last century) and he describes the knot rather differantly.

The rope was passed through a brass plate with two holes in it, thus forming a loop which was passed around the victims neck.

This was postioned in such a manner that the plate was in line with the neck vertebrae, and the rope would force the head off to one side when the drop had been completed.
The actual drop from the trap was calculated according to the build and weight of the subject, the idea being to sever the spinal cord resulting in a very fast death.

However there are differant forms of hanging practiced around the world.

Read it here.


Also, In England, it was arranged so that the condemned man would never have to climb stairs on his way to execution. Usually, the condemned cell was right next door to the gallows room, so he’d just step through a door between the two rooms.