Leg Irons

These 19th century leg-irons were used to restrain the enslaved. The metal bar is turned and withdrawn and the two horseshoe-shaped rings fitted around the ankles. The bar is then replaced, turned, and locked into position. Sometimes two captives were chained in pairs with the leg-irons on board ship to limit their movement below deck. These leg-irons are made of rough solid iron and are very heavy. They would rub the skin causing it to chafe, bruise and bleed.

© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK

Accession reference: 
National Maritime Museum, ZBA2471