Who are body Snatchers?

As unusual as it sounds – body snatching, the action of taking a corpse from its place of burial to be sold for medical or teaching purposes, was a huge problem 200 years ago. The dead were in high demand at the time, and perhaps not for the reason you would first think.

In the 19th century, the law restricted the use of medical research to only allowing postmortems  to be carried out on the bodies of deceased criminals. With a huge shortage of corpses, medical professionals and students alike looked to find alternatives. The answer? Dig up bodies of the recently deceased from churchyards around the country. Body snatching became a booming industry as a result of this demand, with some body’s fetching up to £12 on the black market, which was equivalent to the annual pay of a factory worker at the time.

Body Snatching became a serious problem in the turn of the 19th century, with the scandal being driven by the huge demand medical research facilitates had for human corpses. The action of grave robbing was not a new concept, with accounts of grave robber’s stealing from burial sites across the country for hundreds of years before body snatching became a significant problem. While body snatching was a gruesome and  disrespectful criminal act, the phenomenon had a large impact on the world as we know it. Countless groundbreaking medical discoveries were made as a result of human corpses used by medical professionals and to helped deepen our understanding of the human anatomy and how bodies were affected by illness and disease.

Body Snatchers in Perth and Kinross

Just like the rest of the country, there is a detailed history of body snatching in Perth and Kinross. There are numerous accounts of grave robbing across the county. The Perth and Kinross  Heritage Trust developed a detailed guide on body snatching within the county which can be seen below:



Discover the Action

If you want to get closer to the action, why not visit some of the best churchyards in Perthshire? Go straight to the scenes of the crimes and see first hand where body snatchers would find their victims. With a huge range of churches and churchyards around Perthshire you are bound to find out all about the fascinating history of body snatching. Take a look at our article about the best churchyards in Perth and Kinross here.


About Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust

The Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust is a council-based organisation which is dedicated to preserving and promoting the architectural and archaeological heritage of Perth and Kinross. They conserve the local historical sites so residents, tourists and future generations have the opportunity to discover the fascinating history of Perthshire.

If you would like to find out more about the Perth and Kinross Heritage trust, visit their website to learn more about their current projects and places of historical interest within Perthshire here.


Font Resize
Contrast Mode