Skull of Robert Burns
The Skull of Robert Burns - A Curiosity?
Pictured below is a cast
of the Skull of Robert Burns.
In many ways, it is almost
shameful to portray the great man in this rather distasteful way, and
holding the heavy plaster cast in your hands has a definite feeling of
morbid curiosity. At the same time however, most who see the cast are
able to set aside these naturally negative emotions, and feel a strong
sense of wonder, admiration and humility.
Originally the cast was taken when Burns body was exhumed for study at
the turn of the century. This is an exact plaster cast taken from the
original mould, and is the property of The Irvine Burns Club, which owns
some of the greatest treasures associated with Burns.
Some time after the death
of Burns, and amidst growing recognition of the genius that had been lost,
increasing attention was drawn to every aspect of his life. His intellectual
capacity was undoubted and as such, led the medical profession of the
day to consider the known physical attributes of the great man.
Great debate centred on
basic biological assumptions, that great minds often carried certain characteristics
! Did Burns have a large head ? Did he have a high forehead ? Was there
any other physical characteristics which could be compared with other
intellectual giants? The debate went on.
When the body of Robert
Burns was subsequently exhumed, permission was given to study his skull.
It was at this time the cast was taken
together with every
conceivable measurement and analysis known at that time. Quite frankly,
the general assumptions and debate of the day were at best completely
inaccurate, and at worst
.totally unjustified. ( I suppose hindsight
is a great thing!)
It was indeed noted that
Robert Burns had a rather large head, often associated with people of
superior intellect and this is evident when you see the actual cast. Whilst
it is not significantly large, its size is noticeable.