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Broadside entitled 'Burking Shop Destroyed'


This broadside report begins: 'A particular Account of the Extraordinary Demolition of an Anatomical Theatre, at Aberdeen, on Monday last, the 19th December, 1831, which was Burnt and erazed to the ground, in consequence of the sagacity of a Dog.' The sheet was printed in 1831 by Menzies of Edinburgh, and cost one penny.

This broadside tells of how a mob stormed an anatomical theatre in Aberdeen, following the discovery of a body outside its doors. As news spread of the crimes committed by Burke and Hare in Edinburgh, suspicion of medical schools and surgeons became rife. Indeed, as can be seen from the title of this broadside, the words 'Burking' and 'Burke' even entered the lexicon, thus immortalising the villains. Given that the bodies of executed prisoners were sent to medical schools for dissection, it is interesting to note that people held such an ambiguous attitude towards medical schools and anatomical theatres.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Date of publication: 1831   shelfmark: F.3.a.13(6)
Broadside entitled 'Burking Shop Destroyed'
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