Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (Redirected from Barber-Surgeons of Edinburgh)

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Founded1505; 518 years ago (1505)
FounderKing James IV
Coordinates55°56′49″N 3°11′01″W / 55.946813°N 3.183488°W / 55.946813; -3.183488
Surgeons' Hall (2020)
Surgeons' Hall (1890)

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) is a professional organisation of surgeons. The College has six active faculties, covering a broad spectrum of surgical, dental, and other medical practices. Its main campus is located on Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, within the Surgeons' Hall, designed by William Henry Playfair, and adjoining buildings. The main campus includes a skills laboratory, the Surgeons' Hall Museums, a medical and surgical library, and a hotel. A second office was opened in Birmingham (UK) in 2014 and an international office opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2018.

It is one of the oldest surgical corporations in the world and traces its origins to 1505 when the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh were formally incorporated as a craft of Edinburgh. The Barber-Surgeons of Dublin was the first medical corporation in Ireland or Britain, having been incorporated in 1446 (by Royal Decree of Henry VI).


The 16th century

In 1505, the Edinburgh Guild of Barbers and Surgeons was formally incorporated as a craft guild of the city, and this recognition is embodied in the Seal of Cause (or Charter of Privileges), which was granted to the Barber Surgeons by the Town Council of Edinburgh on 1 July 1505.[citation needed]

The Seal of Cause conferred various privileges and imposed certain crucially important duties, the most important of these being that all apprentices should be literate, that every master should have full knowledge of anatomy and surgical procedures, and that this knowledge should be tested at the end of an apprenticeship, all clauses still relevant to surgical practice and the College today.

Old Surgeons' Hall

The 18th century: the growth of scientific medicine in Edinburgh

In 1722 the Barbers formally separated from the Surgeons Incorporation by decreet of the Court of Session to found the Society of Barbers of Edinburgh, which would exist until 1922.

The University of Edinburgh Medical School (established in 1726) and The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh were responsible for the rapid development in Edinburgh of systematic medical teaching on a sound scientific basis. Surgery, however, was perceived by many as still being a manual craft rather than an intellectual discipline, so members of the Incorporation of Surgeons undertook the task of education and did much to establish Edinburgh's reputation as a centre of surgical teaching. In 1778, King George III granted a new charter giving the surgeons' corporation the title "The Royal College of Surgeons of the City of Edinburgh".

Surgeons' Hall by Playfair

The 20th century: a period of expansion

In July 1905, the College celebrated the fourth centenary of its incorporation, and as part of the celebrations, conferred honorary fellowship upon 36 of the world's most distinguished surgeons. These included Lord Lister, the acknowledged Father of Modern Surgery, who had become a fellow in 1855. In 1955, on the 450th anniversary of the foundation of the College, the honorary fellowship was conferred upon His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, who had consented to become patron of the College earlier that year. A derelict tenement on Hill Place was made available to the college by Edinburgh District Council and was topped out in May 1981.

The 21st century: the College today

The College celebrated its quincentenary in 2005 with the opening of a new skills laboratory and conference venue, as well as its Ten Hill Place Hotel. Today, the College continues to serve its original role, to continue education, assessment, and the advancement of surgeons and surgery. In April 2014, the College opened a regional centre in Birmingham to cater for the 80% of its UK membership based in England and Wales.


It offers distance-learning courses through its department of eLearning. The Post-Graduate Certificate in Remote and Offshore Medicine (CertROM) is an example of a course that consists entirely of online modules, although for the diploma (DipROM) attendance of a workshop is also required.


The Faculty of Remote, Rural and Humanitarian Healthcare

The Faculty of Remote and Rural Healthcare (FRRHH) was formally launched in November 2018, incorporating Humanitarian in its structure in August 2020.

The faculty was established in response to the need identified within both industry and the public health arena to define, review and set standards of competence for organisations as well as medical and non-medical personnel delivering healthcare in remote and rural environments. The new faculty has been developed alongside a number of partner organisations including: UK-MED, MediLink International, BASICS Scotland, the College of Remote and Offshore Medicine and others.

Surgeons' Hall Museums

Surgeons' Hall Museums (2020)

The Museums linked to the College is open to the public and houses one of the largest collections of pathological artifacts in Britain. The museums date from 1699 and underwent major improvements in 2015.

Previous Conservators of the museums include John Goodsir, William Rutherford Sanders, James Bell Pettigrew, David Middleton Greig, and D. E. C. Mekie.

See also

This page was last updated at 2023-09-20 18:12 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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