Episode 6: Digging Deeper: The World Of 19th Century Anatomy

Episode 6: Digging Deeper: The World Of 19th Century Anatomy

Guest podcast With Cat Irving: Human Remains Conservator

Surgeons’ Hall Museum, Edinburgh

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In this episode I’m joined by Cat Irving, Human Remains Conservator at Surgeons’ Hall Museum in Edinburgh. 

We step into the world of the 19th century anatomists and look at how the body snatcher would have delivered a cadaver to the back door of Surgeons’ Hall. 

We talk about the state of the cadaver after it had been packed into barrels and boxes and there’s also a little bit of dissection talk in there along with some basic anatomy to help set the scene.

All gruesome stuff, but not too gruesome I hope. 

01:41 – Introduction 

03:20 – Famous Surgeons at Edinburgh 

04:46 – Dissecting Season

06:30 – The Barber Surgeons 

07:46 – Private Anatomy Schools 

09:26 – Old Surgeons’ Hall & body snatching

11:03 – The condition of cadavers on arrival

15:15 – The part where Cat explains decomposition    

20:40 – Storing Cadavers and using cadavers for dissection    

24:45 – The wonderful story of Martin Van Butchell

27:07 – Dissection and The Paris Manner

34.44 – Finally we get to Burke & Hare 

37:06 – Those bits of a cadavers anatomists wouldn’t be interested in

39:22 – What happened to cadavers after being anatomised

41:22 – Cat’s Blog These Wandering Bones

44:01 – Thanks & visiting Surgeons’ Hall Museum 

How To Find My Guest Cat Irving: 

Cat’s blog These Wandering Bones 

Twitter @AnatomicalCat

Facebook @CatIrving

The link to the image I mention where the cadaver is on the dissecting table holding an open book can be found on the website for the Wellcome Collection I mention in the episode that I thought the image was from Cambridge Anatomy School but in fact, the origin is unknown. 

You can find up to date visiting information on the Surgeon’s Hall Website if you’d like to go and see the pocket book covered in William Burke’s skin for yourself and also his death/life mask. 

The story of Martin Van Butchell can be read on the blog of All Things Georgian

Want a mid-week fix of all things body snatching? Then head on over to my blog at diggingup1800.com

Twitter @Diggingup1800

Instagram @Diggingup1800

Facebook @Diggingup1800

I've been researching the macabre world of body snatching since 2005 when I looked at the topic in depth for my Under Grad dissertation. Since then, I've been absolutely fascinated by this often forgotten side of Britain's history.