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Skull saw, London, England, 1831-1870

The chainsaw like blade of this unusual skull saw is moved by turning the handle in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction and is designed to saw through sections of the skull. Skull saws were used to remove fragments of bone in order to provide access for other instruments. They were commonly used in the 1800s, although some surgeons preferred to use chisels or gouging forceps.

Object number:

A616406

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Glossary:

Glossary: trephination

The removal of a circular piece of the top of the head. This is done using a sharp implement or circular saw, and was common in Neolithic times. It is thought that the aim was to release evil demons or spirits from the body in the hope this would cure the person of their illness.

Glossary: skull saw

A saw used to cut through the skull. This was often used in preperation for brain surgery.