Monday, 20 July 2009
Hunter House Museum & the Hunter brothers.
I finally managed to make it to the Hunter House Museum in East Kilbride, Lanarkshire (about a 15 minute drive from where I live). A few months ago I had read the book 'The Knife Man' by Wendy Moore. It was all about John Hunter and his incredible forward thinking in medicine, during a time when they were still practising Medieval procedures.
John hunter is famous for obtaining the corpse of the Irish giant Charles Byrne. Like most people in the 18th century, Byrne did not want his body going to an anatomist. So as to avoid this fate (which would have been a certainty given his proportions), his friends agreed to bury him in a lead coffin and dump it in the river Thames. John Hunter, however, managed to keep Byrne from his watery grave, and added his skeleton to his anatomical collection, which is now The Huntarian Museum in London. There is also a Huntarian Museum here in Glasgow at the University, but that collection was donated by John's elder brother William upon his death.
I would recommend reading the fantastic story of John Hunter: the man infected himself with syphilis in the name of science! He is truly the father of medicine as we know it today.