Forked wooden sticks or yokes were used to tie captives together in a line or coffle when they were marched to the coast. The forked end was placed around a captive’s neck and the iron bar put across to hold it in place. The other end would be tied to another yoke, or the person behind would have to pick it up for the group to move forward.
The yokes were made from tropical hard wood, and were heavy, weighing about 7 kilograms. They were about two metres long to keep captive Africans apart. The yokes were a cheap solution to slave traders’ problem of moving Africans without needing expensive chains. Family members were often tied to the yoke with rope, making it more difficult for men to escape.
Large numbers of captive Africans were controlled by few guards in this way as the coffle walked in single file through the forested interior to the coast. This yoke is from West Africa and dates from the 19th century.
On 19 March 1783, the African Olaudah Equiano called on anti-slavery campaigner Granville Sharp (see Campaign for abolition) with news of an event. Read more...
The city of Kingston upon Hull has a centuries-old sea-faring commercial history, but its location on the east coast of England ensured that its commerce was shaped by maritime links to Europe. Read more...
Bristol continued its involvement in the slave trade until abolition but in decreasing numbers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Read more...
Although London would eventually be eclipsed by Bristol and Liverpool as a slave-trading port, its involvement in the trade was both longer...Read more..