Metal whip for self-flagellating monks during Black Death: Go ahead, beat yourself up over it.

Discovery News has the painful truth on the braided copper whip:

Found in 2014 at Rufford Abbey, Nottinghamshire, the braided-together length of copper wire, turned to be part of a whip or cat-o-nine-tail used by monks for self-flagellation.

According to Nottinghamshire County Council, the true meaning of the 14th century wire was realized after comparing it with a similar metal scourge found at another British monastery.

The Black Death plague ravaged the country between 1348 and 1350, causing the decline of Rufford Abbey which lost much of its income from the wool industry. Because of the Abbey’s dire financial situation, various kings excused the Abbey from paying taxes during this time.

The whip is one of only four uncovered in the country. It would have been used in this period by the Cistercian monks in an attempt to ward off the Black Death, or as an act of penance to take the population’s sins upon themselves.