Robert Burns died in 1796. In 1815 his remains were transferred from his original burial plot to a mausoleum in St Michael’s Kirkyard, Dumfries. In 1834 the crypt was re-opened to place the remains of Jean Armour, his widow. During this time, Burns’ skull was temporarily removed by local phrenologists. Phrenology was a 19th Century theory that believed that the shape or uneveness of the skull could measure intelligence, character traits and behaviour. As a famous person, Burns’ skull was of particular interest to them. The phrenologists took the skull to local plasterer James Fraser, where a mould and cast were made. The cast you see before you was then rushed to Edinburgh for George Combe’s phrenological examination.


© University of Edinburgh

Museum reference

Object ref: 5052

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