The last execution in Iceland: a mysterious murder case that’s intrigued a country for nearly 200 years

For centuries, some small farms near the water on Iceland’s Vatnsnes peninsula are scattered among the grassy fields and rocky hills, more or less content to be living at the edge of the world. Cherry on the cake, the peninsula is known for a black basalt rock formation that’s said to be a petrified troll, and for the colonies of seals that come to sun themselves on the beach. On current days, this surreal zone is still almost as peaceful—and lonely—as it was the night in March 1828 when a…

Read More

“Half-Hangit” Maggie Dickson: the woman who survived the hangman’s noose.

Maggie Dickson was consigned to the gallows on Edinburgh’s historic Grassmarket on September 2, 1724. So, it was unlikely that anyone attending her public execution thought they would see her alive again afterward. The day of the hanging should have been just another ordinary day, with an ordinary routine on an ordinary schedule: just the hanging of another ordinary woman sentenced to death. Her public death was certainly observed by both court and church representatives, family members and relatives, and probably other people who, as usual, were there just for…

Read More

Pirates and gallows at Execution Dock: nautical “justice” in modern London.

The city of London was once the largest port in the world, and as such attracted its fair share of pirates and smugglers. Try to imagine. Still in the first decades of the 19th century, travelers approaching the port of the city of London on the Thames were greeted by a horrible sight: the river was flanked by a number of gallows, from which corpses hung in decomposition, were exposed in iron cages. The wind rocked the human remains, causing a sinister crunch that terrified sailors. The infamous London Execution…

Read More