Between 1742 and 1832, men of the lowest form of character targeted Britain’s churchyards for perhaps one of the most macabre practices you’ll ever come across.
Resurrection men or body snatchers, plagued our churchyards and stole our dead all in the name of science. Providing a fresh and steady supply of cadavers for the anatomy schools of London and Edinburgh and everywhere in-between. But how did we go about stopping them?
This lecture will look at the different forms of body snatching prevention that developed in a sometimes futile attempt to keep the resurrection men at bay. After briefly discussing why such large number of cadavers were needed for the teaching of anatomy, we will address the modus operandi of the body snatcher, hearing of a few not so successful attempts along the way.
But just how efficient were body snatchers when it came to raiding our graveyards and what did parishes and relatives of the deceased do to try to stop them?
From simple watch houses to the more elaborate caged lair, this will be a tour of Britain that you perhaps won’t see in the travel guides. We’ll look at some of the more famous examples to lesser known artifacts, demonstrating just how prolific body snatchers had become before their world would start tumbling down with the arrests of the now infamous duo, the murderers Burke and Hare.
Dipping our toes into locations throughout Britain, join this whirlwind tour of all things macabre.
Suzie Lennox studied History at Teesside and completed her Master’s degree in Archive Administration in 2011 before leaving the sector in 2015. She has been researching all aspects of body snatching for over fifteen years, after writing about the legal implications of the trade for her dissertation at university. Her book ‘Bodysnatchers: Digging Up The Untold Story of Britain’s Resurrection Men’ was published by Pen & Sword in 2016. She has recently returned to university to focus on a new career in Crime Scene Science.