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,…

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…

Pathology Spotlight- Vitamin D Deficiency: Osteomalacia and Rickets

Bones are made principally from a combination of the protein collagen (30%) and the calcium-based mineral hydroxyapatite (70%). Inadequate production of the mineral portion of bone can lead to soft bones, a condition called osteomalacia. The usual cause is a deficiency in vitamin D, which is required to absorb calcium from the diet. Vitamin D…

Putting a Face to the Name: Robert the Bruce

With the release of Netflix’s ‘The Outlaw King’ there has been a piqued interest in Robert the Bruce. In this blog, Dr Iain Macleod, retired consultant and honorary clinical senior lecturer in dental & maxillofacial radiology, tells us about the process of putting a face to this famous name.  On the morning of Friday, 5th November 1819…

Pathology Spotlight: A Historic Black Lung

The specimen shows Coalworker’s Pneumoconiosis or ‘Black Lung’, the scarring lung disease caused by inhaling the dust produced in coalmines. In the 19th century a burgeoning British coal-mining industry supplied fuel for the Industrial Revolution and by the 1830s, around 200,000 British miners were producing 36 million tons of coal per year. It seems obvious…

A Quest for Healing: Contemporary Art by Zhang Yanzi

In April, Surgeons’ Hall Museums opened its newest temporary exhibition ‘A Quest for Healing.’ Created by award-winning Chinese artist Zhang Yanzi, this contemporary art exhibition is the first of its kind to be shown at the museums.   Zhang Yanzi completed a residency in Edinburgh during 2017, where she became inspired by Surgeons’ Hall Museums,…

Pathology Spotlight: Gas Gangrene and Trench Warfare

This specimen comes from a soldier who was injured by a gunshot wound to the left knee in France during August 1917. Much of the trench warfare in France and Flanders during the first world war took place in what had been cultivated fields that would be fertilised with horse manure, meaning that soil would…

X-Posed – A glimpse into the injuries of WWI

The museum has recently acquired a series of First World War Glass X-ray plates from Bellahouston Auxiliary Hospital in Glasgow dating from 1918-1919. NHS Fife donated the X-rays after they were discovered in Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy in 2014. Bellahouston House in Glasgow was converted into a military hospital during the First World War and operated…

Preliminary Diagnosis

Our new Assistant Curator Louise Wilkie writes about her first month at Surgeons’ Hall Museums.  I have now been the Assistant Curator at Surgeons Hall for one month and what a month it has been. There is so much to learn of the rich collections here, not to mention a whole range of new medical…

Unmaking a Murderer

John Baxter writes for Surgeons’ Hall Museums in this guest post chronicling William Burke’s movements in his final 24 hours.  The story of the West Port Murders is one of the most shocking ever recorded in Scottish judicial history.  Over a period of 10 months in 1828, William Burke and William Hare murdered 16 people…