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William Hewson (1739-1774) and the Craven Street Anatomy School – Anatomical teaching in the 18th century

Kausmally, T; (2015) William Hewson (1739-1774) and the Craven Street Anatomy School – Anatomical teaching in the 18th century. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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In 1998 a small excavation, covering less than a cubic meter, was carried out in the basement of Benjamin Franklin house, 36 Craven Street, London. The finds revealed over 3500 dissected human and animal skeletal remains and a number of artefacts (incl. glass, microscopic slides and tubes, ceramics and metal). The finds were linked to the Craven Street anatomy school (1772-1778), founded by anatomist William Hewson. The tight time frame predating the anatomy act of 1832 and the association with a single well documented figure, allows for an unparalleled insight into the organisation of a private anatomy school through archaeological and historical records. It is a rare opportunity to place archaeological findings within a framework wherein it is possible to distinguish individual motivation and action and how these relate to broader tendencies in society. The recent surge in archaeological excavations of anatomy school has enabled Craven Street to be placed into a wider context comparing private anatomy schools to hospital anatomy schools. Patterns of procurement, use and disposal of human and animal remains shed light on the organisation of the school and its social and economic status in society, allowing reflections on the clandestine body trade and vivisections. The archaeological findings revealed at least 28 human individuals (over half were sub-adults) and a minimum of 43 species of animals; mainly cats, dogs and mallards, but also included exotic species such as green turtle. The human bones were testament to body sharing and surgical practice. Some cut marks suggested an experimental approach to making anatomical preparations and techniques applied to Hewson’s own research. The animals exhibited limited cut marks, and therefore most likely used for vivisections. The burial environment reflected delayed burial procedures, with gnawing marks present on the bones, as well as casual disposal techniques reflecting the removal of the person and objectification of the body at the point of disposal.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: William Hewson (1739-1774) and the Craven Street Anatomy School – Anatomical teaching in the 18th century
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470030
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