Aberdeen anatomist grave robber inspires The Burkin Hoose film

By Rachel Bell
BBC Scotland reporter

image source, University of Aberdeen

A 19th century Aberdeen anatomist who robbed graves in an effort to advance medical treatment has inspired a new short film.

Dr Andrew Moir's work in the 1830s features in The Burkin Hoose by Crow House Projects.

Filming has been taking place across the north east of Scotland, and it is hoped it will be a success in the film festival circuit.

Director Nicci Thompson said it was a story that had to be told.

He told BBC Scotland: "It's about how he used to liaise and work with local body snatchers and grave diggers.

"He used to go out with them and rob graves for his experiments."

Known as "dirty, clever Dr Moir", his actions sparked a riot in 1831 when people learned what he was doing.

The director said of the story: "I was surprised it had not been told before."

image source, Ali Talaska
image captionActor Steve Hay plays Dr Andrew Moir

Actor Steve Hay, who plays Dr Moir, said: "He was trying to further science for the benefit of humanity.

"He's a pioneer and he's driven, he's inspired he's out to further man's knowledge."

Born in 1806, Dr Moir died in 1844.

Dr Fiona-Jane Brown, of Hidden Aberdeen Tours, who was a historical consultant on the film, said Dr Moir died of typhoid fever caught from a general practice patient.

image source, Ali Talaska

She said: "Andrew Moir worked in a time where people were still extremely superstitious and thought it a sin to cut open the human body.

"He stole bodies from the kirkyard because he wanted to further his knowledge in order to help people.

"He risked his reputation and life to do this, therefore, he is a pioneer as far as Aberdeen's medical school is concerned.

"Without folk like him and Dr Patrick Blaikie, his tutor, Aberdeen would not have the standard of medical skill it has today."

image source, Ali Talaska

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