The Watch Tower

Dalkeith Watch Tower was built in 1827 to shelter watchmen looking out for grave robbers who stole bodies to sell to the School of Anatomy.

About The Watch Tower

Until the 19th Century, Scotland lagged behind much of Europe in the study of anatomy. A major cause of this was a reluctance to allow the use of human bodies for dissection at medical school.
One way to acquire bodies however, was by robbing graves. Raiding graves became a common practice.
Suppliers were known as "resurrectionists" or "sack 'em up men"
In an attempt to stop the practice, a voluntary body called the Committee of the Dalkeith Churchyard Association built the Dalkeith Watch Tower in 1827.
It is built of red sandstone on an octagonal plan and had a crenelated top. Inside there was an upper timber floor with access by a ladder. Armed watchmen stood there all night keeping look out for "body snatchers".
In 1832 the Anatomy Act ensured a legitimate supply of corpses and the Watch Tower fell into disuse.
In 1986 it was restored and informative display panels were installed.
The Watch Tower is kept locked but is opened and visited as part of Dalkeith Museum Dark and Deadly evening tours.

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