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Human remains in capital linked to 19th-century 'body snatcher' murders

THE human remains found behind an Edinburgh townhouse are thought to be among the final victims of the city's body snatchers.

A total of five skeletons were removed from a shallow grave in the Haymarket area in September 2012.

Following work by Historic Scotland and Guard Archaeology, the remains have since been linked to the early 19th Century — a time when the sale of dead bodies was at its peak.

Around 60 bones were unearthed, including four adult jawbones and others believed to be from a child.

Maureen Kilpatrick, a lead archeologist at Guard, said: "There were quite a few little holes in them which were to cater for wires, which leads us to believe they were used for anatomical purposes.

"We'll never know if they were criminals or from poor houses, or equally if they were exhumed from their graves, and although we are still bringing our findings together it does appear we'll be left with a mystery."

During the 1800s, Edinburgh was one of the many areas where the cadaver business carved its name.

Known as 'Resurrectionists', the culprits would plunder the graves of the recently deceased to acquire a supply of 'fresh' corpses.

The horrific trade was made infamous by Ulster immigrants Burke and Hare who embarked on a series of murders to satisfy demand.

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