Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Barber surgeon of Avebury
The traditional story goes as follows:
A pious traveller was assisting the folk of Avebury in burying the pagan standing stones in the village during the fourteenth century. Alas as he was busily digging out the underside of a stone it fell over, crushing him and entombing him beneath it. The archaeologist Alexander Keiller lifted the stone to reinstate it in 1938 and found the man's remains underneath. Items found with the body including coins, scissors and an iron medical probe identified him as an itinerant mediaeval barber surgeon who had sadly been hoist by his own petard .
Keiller sent the remains to the curator of the museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, whom he felt would appreciate the find. It was thought to have been destroyed during bombing in the Second World War but was rediscovered and re-examined in 1998. A large healed cut wound was noticed on the skull but no evidence of traumatic death was identified and it was suggested that the man had been buried beneath a stone rather than crushed by it.
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