Surgery and Anatomy

National Curriculum Science Area: History

Key Stage: 3 and 4

Length of session: 1–2 hours

Maximum group size: 25–50 students

Suitable for Schools’ GCSE teaching on the history of medicine. 

This session provides students with an insight into the realities of surgery in the early Modern period, focusing particularly on the 16th- and 17th-centuries.

The workshop begins with a presentation of original books from the Museum’s library and archive, giving students access to primary source material and insight into the development of medicine, surgery and anatomy in the 17th century.

Students will be able to see a collection of surgical instruments which illustrate surgical techniques and the hazards associated with them.

An extended session can include a dramatic excerpt from a novel based on early experiments in blood transfusion; this provides the focus for a question-and-answer session examining the philosophical and scientific basis of early modern medicine.