Surgeons' Hall Museums

Top choice


in South Edinburgh

Housed in a grand Ionic temple designed by William Playfair in 1832, these three fascinating museums were originally established as teaching collections. The History of Surgery Museum provides a look at surgery in Scotland from the 15th century to the present day. Highlights include the exhibit on murderers Burke and Hare, which includes Burke's death mask and a pocketbook made from his skin, and a display on Dr Joseph Bell, who was the inspiration for the character of Sherlock Holmes.

The adjacent Dental Collection, with its wince-inducing extraction tools, covers the history of dentistry, while the Pathology Museum houses a gruesome but compelling 19th-century collection of diseased organs and massive tumours pickled in formaldehyde.