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By Helen Dingwall

Together with advancements in drugs, surgical procedure, and substitute medication relating to the altering fiscal and social heritage, the writer bargains a brand new synthesis of drugs and society in Scotland.

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It has, for example, been claimed that the discovery of a number of tiny skeletons confirms that an ‘abortion clinic’ was in operation, despite the dominance of the Catholic church. This is a difficult conclusion to defend. Given the many factors of isolation, weather conditions, problems of travel, mortality rate and size of full- MEDICINE IN MEDIEVAL SCOTLAND 41 term medieval infants and the precarious medical and general condition of their mothers, it would be impossible to prove whether these were the skeletons of newborn or stillborn infants or near-term fetuses which succumbed to circumstances rather than to any element of maternal desire, coercion or obstetric accident.

Comrie, History, i, 30. 9. Conrad, L. L. , The Western Medical Tradition 800 BC–1800 AD (Cambridge, 1995); Porter, Greatest Benefit, 6–8. 10. , Source Book of Medical History (New York, 1960), 2–1. 11. Sprengell, C. ), The Aphorisms of Hippocrates and the Sentences of Celsus, with Explanations and References to the Most Considerable Writers in Physick and Philosophy, both Ancient and Modern (London, 1708). 12. Porter, Greatest Benefit, 77. 13. , Healing Threads. Traditional Medicine of the Highlands and Islands (Edinburgh, 1995).

It has, for example, been claimed that the discovery of a number of tiny skeletons confirms that an ‘abortion clinic’ was in operation, despite the dominance of the Catholic church. This is a difficult conclusion to defend. Given the many factors of isolation, weather conditions, problems of travel, mortality rate and size of full- MEDICINE IN MEDIEVAL SCOTLAND 41 term medieval infants and the precarious medical and general condition of their mothers, it would be impossible to prove whether these were the skeletons of newborn or stillborn infants or near-term fetuses which succumbed to circumstances rather than to any element of maternal desire, coercion or obstetric accident.

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