Outlander Season 6: Who are the sin-eaters and what is their role?


The Outlander drama series returned to the Starz television network on March 6, 2022 to find Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) continuing to build their settlement in North Carolina, in a community they’ve named Fraser’s Ridge. However, the new settlers have brought with them old traditions, and religious differences soon see tension grow, especially when they called in the sin-eaters.

From the first episode of the sixth season of Outlander, the arrival of the new settlers, the Christies, from Scotland is seen. Family patriarch Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones), a fierce Protestant, has a history with Jamie after the two men clashed while serving time in Ardsmuir Prison after the Battle of Culloden.

However, the two did not get along very well in Ardsmuir prison where they had several clashes over their religious beliefs. But now, Jamie finds himself at odds with the Scotsman again when Christie builds a church on Fraser’s Ridge and strives to keep his faith traditions alive in the new world.

During the second episode of Outlander season 6, we see how one of the colonists suddenly dies, so Christie organizes a funeral in the new church, and the body of the deceased is seen with bread on it. Soon, a man arrives: the sin-eater, who eats the bread, is paid, and then leaves. But who are the sin-eaters and what are they paid for?

Sin-eaters were people paid to eat other people’s sins. The sin-eating ritual involves putting bread on the body of a recently deceased person. Because the bread was believed to absorb the sin of the person, and when the sin-eater eats the bread, the sin is also consumed. This leaves the deceased person clean and ready to move on to the afterlife.

The different versions of the investigations, it is believed that some sin-eaters said words or sentences about the deceased during the ritual as seen in Outlander season 6 episode 2, however, the act of eating sins was never tolerated nor sanctioned by the church. The practice is often associated with the Christian religion due to the act’s prominence in England, Wales, and Scotland during the Middle Ages.

Sin-eaters resurfaced in Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries, which explains the rituals’ presence in Outlander season 6. Interestingly, sin-eaters were often seen as evil beings, plagued by all the accumulated sins of others who did it for pay.

According to the History Collection website, sin-eaters traded their own souls for a little money and bread. He or she would absorb the sins of so many people that eternal damnation was assured, but they didn’t seem to care as long as they got the money and food.