The Dispute That Rocked 19th Century Medicine

In this new blog post, our Senior Research Fellow, Ken Donaldson, discusses the dispute that rocked 19th century Edinburgh medicine.   Fallouts over scientific theories are nothing new. The first great clash was in the 17th century when Galileo argued that the sun was at the centre of our universe. His opponent was the Pope,…

Corrective Surgery

In this latest blog, our Human Remains Conservator discusses the skull and death mask of Burke and Hare’s accomplice, John Brogan, and how pioneering surgery carried out by Thomas Mütter could have helped with a childhood injury. The story of Burke and Hare is well known. In 1828 the pair murdered at least 16 people…

Surgeons’ Hall Step Into The Future

We’ve told you about the history of surgery. Now it’s time to take a step into the future. Surgeons’ Hall Museums are delighted to announce two new galleries which are set to open in the autumn of 2020. The new galleries are the second phase of the museum redevelopment, with phase one being completed in…

Syme’s Amputation

In this latest blog our Human Remains Conservator, Cat Irving, takes a look at James Syme and how his pioneering technique helped shape the surgical world. James Syme (1799-1870) was one of the leading surgeons of his day, whom it was said “He never unnecessarily wasted a word, drop of ink or blood.” Active during the…

Bacteriophage- the answer to Antibiotic Armageddon?  

Ken Donaldson, Senior Research Fellow at Surgeons’ Hall Museums, tells us why we are facing an “Antibiotic Armageddon” and how Bacteriophages could be the solution to this catastrophic problem.   Most people will have heard about the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, sometimes called ‘Antibiotic Armageddon’. This refers to the fact that some common infectious…

Lister’s Kneecap

Our Human Remains Conservator tells us about a knee cap with a connection to Joseph Lister. I recently came across a patella in our collection which has been cut in half vertically to show a healed fracture that crosses the bone transversely. On both sides of the knee, wire can be seen passing through holes…

A Few Words About Formaldehyde

Our Human Remains Conservator Cat Irving discusses the misconceptions behind the use of formaldehyde and explains why you won’t see much of it in our Collections. Peter Carey’s novel Jack Maggs is set in London in 1837. A Charles Dickens-esque character called Tobias Oates goes into a shop in Whitechapel where he buys what is…

The Veiled Child

Our Human Remains Conservator takes a look at the superstitions surrounding a Baby’s’ Caul.

2018: A Year in Review

2018 has been the busiest year ever for Surgeons’ Hall Museums, Libraries and Archives. We’ve had a wide variety of different events, two temporary exhibitions and we launched our walking tours and the Henry Wade Project. We have also welcomed more of you than ever through our doors! This year we started #SpeakToTheSpecialist, a series…

Miss Frances Ivens and the Scottish Women’s Hospital in France

Our new exhibition looks at the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH), showcasing The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Archival collection and the reflections of two local artists, Susie Wilson and Joan Smith. In addition we have been fortunate to receive a loan of materials once belonging to Miss Frances Ivens a leading figure in the…

William Burke and the Edinburgh Irish; Sympathy for the Devil

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Archives  holds the memoirs of Edinburgh University student Thomas Hume. In his memoirs, Hume discusses the execution and dissection of William Burke, both of which he was witness to. In this latest blog, our Senior Museum Research Fellow Ken Donaldson explores the sympathy felt for Burke by some witnesses…