The numbers are truly staggering. In London, England, at Tyburn alone over 50,000 people were strung up from the gallows, during its 700 year history.
Across the Atlantic in America, an estimated 16,000 individuals were hanged nationwide between 1605 and 1967. Between 2007-2011, 1663 individuals were executed in Iran. The majority of them were hanged.
These are just snapshots of a worldwide figure for all time. Nobody could possibly estimate that. This method of execution has been going on for a very long time, which is why it figures so highly in our minds and in our language.
As a Briton, hanging was the favorite way of executing people in my country since the Anglo-Saxons invaded in the 4th century. No-one has been hanged here since 1964, with abolition in general terms occurring in 1967.
However a working gallows was maintained at Wandsworth Prison, in London. Every six months until 1998, it was checked to ensure that it was operational. Sacks the weight of the average British person were dropped through the trapdoor. The reason was not only that the Home Office thought that we should have one working, but also that High Treason and felony in Northern Ireland could potentially still carry the death penalty until then.
The legacy of so many centuries of capital punishment has left its stain in the British psyche and its landscape. There are no end of places called something like Gallows Hill or Hangman's Lane dotted around the country. They bear testimony to a terrible past.
I have only twice stepped foot in a death chamber and both of them were gallows within a prison. At Kilmainham Gaol, near Dublin, a quiet corridor ends in a shadowy room and a trapdoor. I flinched back instinctively, then forced myself to look.
It was such a small room, hidden away like a dirty secret. From that high beam had dangled the rope upon which so many Irish men and women had died. It raised goosebumps on my arms, though it was silent now.
The Galleries of Justice in Nottingham is housed in what was once the city's main prison. After meandering through centuries worth of ancient cells, following the history into the 20th century, I arrived in a relatively modern room. I looked around in interest, but there wasn't too much to see. Then I walked through an adjoining room and stopped dead.
There was the gallows, as it was done in England so recently. So close to the condemned cell. Should the death penalty ever return to Britain, it will be with a noose attached.
Former colonies of the British Empire received their gallows along with our historical governance. It is, for example, why Americans in Washington State may be hanged, or why Trinidad and Tobago is embroiled in debates about its own death penalty.
Of course, Britain isn't to blame for every use of hanging across the world, but its imperialist fervor to export it certainly played a large part in its on-going popularity.
But what do we really know about death by noose?