Archaeologists have shed light on humans remains unearthed more than a year ago in the rear garden of an Edinburgh house, revealing that the bones are linked to the body snatching era made infamous by Irish killers Burke and Hare.
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Belonging to four adults and at least one child, the disarticulated remains -- about 60 bones -- feature small holes used to re-articulate the skeletons with wire. According to experts at consultants Guard Archaeology, this suggests they were used for anatomical display.
The remains date back to the early 19th century, when the Scottish capital was a world leader in the study of anatomy. At that time Edinburgh's medical schools acquired human remains from hangings of criminals, unclaimed poor or even from the illegal digging of graves.
It was at that time when demand for fresh bodies far outweighed supply when Irish immigrants William Hare (left) and William Burke (right) began their grisly trade.
The infamous duo murdered people from 1827 until 1828 to supply anatomy students with fresh cadavers. They claimed more than three times the number of victims than Jack the Ripper.
Burke and Hare delivered at least 16 bodies to Dr Robert Knox (shown here), an anatomy lecturer who was meticulously and obsessively devoted to getting the very best bodies to illustrate specific aspects of human anatomy for his students.
Only the first of the bodies they sold to Knox died naturally. All the rest were murdered by suffocation (by compressing the chest and covering the nose and mouth).
Later known as "burking," the method left no suspicious homicide marks and provided the anatomy students with fresh, undamaged bodies.
Finally caught in 1828, the two men experienced different fates.
Burke was hanged in front of a crowd estimated at 30,000 people, while Hare got immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony against his accomplice. No charges were ever brought against Knox.
Ironically, Burke's remains were handed over to the medical school where he sold his victims. There, he was publicly dissected and anatomized in the name of science. Burke's skeleton is displayed in the Anatomy Museum of the Edinburgh Medical School "in order that posterity may keep in remembrance of his atrocious crimes."
Following the dissection, Burke's skin was made into various items, such as this pocket book, and offered for sale on the streets of Edinburgh.
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