Henrietta Marie Shackles 1986.008.06353D Model
Shackles from the slave ship Henrietta Marie were used to restrain captive Africans by holding two people together. These wrought-iron devices are of a type known as “bilboes,” and their design is one that went virtually unchanged from ca. 1550 to 1850. Two U-shaped shackles fit over the ankles or wrists of the captives, too tightly to slip hands or feet through. Smaller loops at each shackle terminus slid over a long bolt. The bolt had a larger diameter head forged onto one end and a slot pierced into the other. The large head served as a stop to keep the loops from sliding over one end, and the same effect was achieved at the other by hammering an iron wedge tightly into the slot, locking the shackles, and thus the prisoners, to the bolt and to each other. The single shackle loop in this example is bound with twine, perhaps as “cushioning” to protect the human cargo from being chafed by the iron. The bolt is 30.5 cm long, and the inside areas of the shackle is 8.0 cm tall by 6.0 cm wide.