Getting Carried Away – Body Snatching Lesson


The theme for today’s lesson is body snatching.  This is always a fun and interesting lesson because the pupils tend to enjoy the more gory and macabre topics, yet they come away with knowledge of the role of the body in the evolution of medical practice in the 18 and 19th century, insight into the role of the Anatomy Acts, and an understanding of disposal of the body from a sanitation and moral standpoint in history.

Body Snatchers

Grave Robbers
Grave Robbers stealing child’s body


This lesson also has one of the most fun exercises for the pupils as they get to decide how they will defend a grave from the ‘nasty’ grave robbers.

Body Snatchers and Grave Robbers

This teaches the pupils about how graveyards became sites of commercial opportunity, as well as conflict as private security, members of the militia and traps, were employed to catch the resurrectionists in the act of stealing the dead to be sold for medical exploration and experimentation.


Grave Cage
Grave Cage – 1810


This lesson also considers the history of medicine as well as then moving on to describe the murders committed by Burke and Hare in 1831.

Burke and Hare

The below video is also useful as an excellent teaching resource for preparation for this lesson.

The Body Snatchers: Corpse and Effect – Teaching Video by Cambridge University

After the lesson, this post will be edited to include an account of the lesson progressed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s