A bear pit was historically used to display bears, typically for entertainment and especially bear-baiting. The pit area was normally surrounded by a high fence, above which the spectators would look down on the bears.
The most traditional form of maintaining
A noteworthy example is found in Bern, Switzerland. Known as the Bärengraben, it was built in 1857, and is still in use though much modified: after an outcry around 2000, when the bears were still in two circular pits and shut up at night, a park was constructed on the riverbank by the pits with generous access to the river Aare which has greatly improved the three bears' accommodation.
Another meaning is for an unusually aggressive political arena, in which direct, heated attacks are common.
A bear pit also refers to a type of trap used to deter or trap bears. It usually consists of a large earthen pit with sharpened pikes in the bottom to impale the bear. They are most often used to deter bears from approaching a cabin, rather than as a means of actually catching them.
The term bear pit is also used to describe a
In Scotland, the phrase bear pit is used to describe bars or public houses that are known to have a violent reputation.