Bones of Contention: The Medico-Legal Issues Relating to Charles Byrne, 'The Irish Giant'

Queen’s Political Review, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp. 155-166, 2014

Posted: 9 Aug 2016

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

This article engages with the medico-legal issues pertaining to the life and legacy of Charles Byrne, a celebrity Irish ‘giant’ who made a name for himself in Georgian Britain and whose remains are currently the subject of a highly controversial display in the Hunterian Museum, London. The article addresses Byrne’s historical life and times, then proceeds to consider both the contribution that his remains have made to medical research and a variety of legal issues relevant to his posthumous treatment. In the latter stages of the discussion it is observed that the Byrne exhibit at the Hunterian Museum raises issues that are directly pertinent to contemporary viewers of the display, most notably with respect to the issue of burial instruction; Byrne’s skeleton partially symbolises the onlooker’s own circumstances.

Keywords: Burial Law, Medical Law, Charles Byrne

Suggested Citation

Muinzer, Thomas, Bones of Contention: The Medico-Legal Issues Relating to Charles Byrne, 'The Irish Giant' (2014). Queen’s Political Review, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp. 155-166, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2817488

Thomas Muinzer (Contact Author)

Stirling Law School ( email )

University of Stirling
Stirling Law School
Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

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