31 December 2009
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John Sage is supposed to have been the Castle Torturer of Chillingham Castle, in Northumberland, circa 1200 AD. His existence and the stories about him are not historically proven and it appears quite possible that he is entirely mythical. Sage, a minor celebrity of his time, was formerly a soldier of King Edward 'Longshanks' and was said to have succeeded in reaching the rank of Lieutenant before being injured by a spear to his leg. Subsequently, he earned the nickname 'Dragfoot' and was awarded the infamous torturer position for which he became known. He was known to have hanged people inside of a cage until they starved to death, or cook them alive over a fire.
According to legend, Sage worked for Longshanks as the castle's torturer for three years, within which he was rumored to torture upwards of 50 people a week. His favorite torture device was said to be the cage, inside which he would enclose a victim and place over a fire. Other torture methods he is supposed to have used included boiling alive, the iron maiden and the use of an oubliette.
Legend states he was hanged from a tree along the Devil's Mile (also known as the Devil's Walk) within the grounds of Chillingham Castle in front of a large crowd. As was common at public hangings, the crowd cut off souvenirs from Sage's body, including his toes, fingers, testicles, and nose, as he was still alive.