The walk of shame, known as a skimmington or "rough music", was a traditional punishment for harlotry, or being a "termagant" – an overbearing wife. Women were made to walk barefoot through the town or city, sometimes dressed only in their petticoat. The streets were filthy, and sharp with rough stones. Jeering crowds lined up to stare, and minstrels, banging basins and pans, would accompany the procession, adding to the woman's humilation.
Sometimes the skimmingtons were delivered by the townsfolk rather than the courts. The accused might be dragged from their bed at night, and paraded through the town with the crowd shouting, "A whore, a whore".