Dr. Robert Knox: More than the boy who bought the beef

  • 27 January 2022
  • 7pm | £3.00 per person + booking fee.
  • Surgeons' Hall Museums

Join Surgeons' Hall Museums for a live talk as they delve into the life of Dr Knox, a man often associated with 19th century murderers, Burke and Hare.

 The Infamous Dr Knox Surgeon Hall Museum(Image Credit: RCSEd Library)

In the early 1800’s Edinburgh became was at the centre of the Scottish Enlightenment, and in the field of medical science great advances were being made - Sir James Young Simpson discovered chloroform anaesthesia, and Dr Joseph Lister pioneered the use of antiseptic during surgery. As medicine became an esteemed occupation, the numbers of students at the University of Edinburgh grew.

But in order to hone their skills, a steady supply of cadavers was required. The main legal source of obtaining bodies for dissection at that time was that of convicted and executed criminals, but as the number of students grew, the demand for bodies for dissection far outstripped the supply.

The shortfall was increasingly met by the activities of a group of unsavoury characters known as grave-robbers, but two men took it a step further - between 1827 and 1828 William Burke and William Hare lured potential victims into their lodgings, killed them and sold the bodies to Dr Knox, a prominent anatomy lecturer and surgeon, who gladly accepted them on a no-questions-asked basis.

This January, join Surgeons' Hall Museums as they explore the life of this infamous and complex man.

Suitable for aged 16+.

The talk will last approximately 1 hour. Surgeons' Hall Museum will then be open until 9pm for ticket holders only.

Tickets for Dr. Robert Knox event should be pre-booked online



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