Medical students secretly practiced on the human body, found in a 19th-century burial site in Scotland

The researchers think that the bones were buried in the 1850s, in order to avoid the penalties of the law, to reduce the horrid practice of “anatomizing,” which resulted in 16 murders by William Burke and William Hare, to sell the corpses for anatomy lessons. (Credit: Wellcome Collection/CC-by 4.0)

The grisly discovery of human bones behind the house, in the Scottish city of Aberdeen, is thought to be referring to a dark chapter in the history of the illegal use of dead bodies for anatomical practice to the 19th century.

Construction workers digging a trench in the back yard of a 200 year old house in the oldest part of the city, found the bones at the end of last year.

Workers reported the find to the police, a requirement of the Scottish legislation, where human bones have been found, which are listed in Aberdeenshire, the regional archaeologist, Bruce Mann, in order to determine whether the bone belonged to one of the people who have recently passed away.

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“Some of them are recognizable as parts of human skulls,” Mann told Live Science. After the examination of the remains, it was decided that the bones were over 100 years old.

But that’s not all — several of the bones exhibit the strange behaviour. “You could say that there were several different marks. So, something else was going on,” he said.


Archaeologists eventually excavated a total of 115 fragments of human bones from the yard of the house, and she handed them over to the University of Aberdeen, where they were examined by the osteoarchaeologist and Rebecca Crozier.

When Crozier joined the bone fragments and determined their age by radiocarbon dating, they found that they came from seven different individuals, who probably lived between 1750 and 1850, and that two of them were children.

Her research showed that the marks on the bones were the scars from the medical procedures, including a craniotomy, which involves opening of the skull, which was carried out on the human body post-mortem.

That is, it suggests that the bodies had been found, after death, and is to be used for medical training for students at the University of Aberdeen is known as one of the top medical schools in the united Kingdom at that time.

It is now thought that the medical students are in the secret, buried in all of the seven bodies in the yard in the 1850’s, in order to avoid legal sanctions on the use of dead bodies for dissection, and for the practice of surgery, Crozier, told Science

“No, We can’t say for sure how they acquired them,” she said, “but, in view of the history of the time, and it certainly doesn’t make you look good.”

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