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Medical History Tour

Learn about Edinburgh’s rich history of science and medicine 

Step back in time and embark on a captivating 1-hour guided tour exploring Edinburgh’s rich medical history. This unique experience takes you on a compelling journey down the only preserved 17th-century street in the city, Mary King’s Close. You will walk in the footsteps of the city’s past residents, exploring the unique evolution of medical practices pioneered in Scotland’s capital city.

During our Medical History Tour, you will:

  • Brave The Plague of 1645

Delve deep into the darkest days of Edinburgh’s history. Meet the medical practitioners who treated ordinary Edinburgh folk during the plague outbreak of 1645, and discover how – against all odds – the city confronted this devastating epidemic.

  • Learn about Dr Arnott’s methods of diagnosis

One of the tour’s highlights is the tale of Dr Arnott, a physician who lived on Mary King’s Close. Prepare to be both fascinated and somewhat revolted as you hear about his unconventional method of diagnosing patients— by tasting their urine! This eccentric practice underscores the remarkable contrast between historical and modern medicine.

  • Explore the evolution of Midwifery

The tour doesn’t just focus on male medical practitioners; it also sheds light on midwives, or “Howdies”. Without formal medical education, these women relied on ancestral knowledge passed down to them through the generations. Discover how Edinburgh was the first university in the world to have a chair of midwifery.

  • Uncover how Mental Health was treated in the 17th Century

In the 17th and 18th centuries, melancholy was a common diagnosis and often associated with black humour – a disease of both body and mind. Hear the story of Robert Ferguson and how he was treated until his death in 1774.

  • And much more…


The Medical History Tour promises to educate, inspire and encourage the next generation of innovators in science and medicine.

Saturdays in July
1-hour tour
£27 per adult
£22 per child (5-15yo)
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