Barber surgery

The barber surgeon was the medieval counterpart to a physician (“general practitioner”). Using red-hot irons, leeches, herbs and knives he would seek to cure all kinds of ailments.

Medieval medicine was primarily based upon the works of the Greek doctor of antiquity, Aelius Galenus, most widely known as Galen (119-200 AD). His point of origin was the four elements, which corresponded to four basic bodily fluids: Blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. Illness would ensue if these fluids were not properly balanced. If the balance was lost, change of diet and various other interventions were necessary to restore it.

Unknown by many, advanced surgery was far from unknown in the medieval age. This is described e.g. in original documents dated 1326 and 1363. The barber surgeons of Warwik continuously seek to improve their knowledge on the jobs and lives of their medieval counterparts. Through smithing and woodwork they produce their own replicas of medieval surgical instruments according to authentic methods.

Within the Warwik resort, barber surgery is communicated by means of an “open tent” dialogue/talk. A traditional lecture in the camp setting has proven impractical. None the less, the event is typically printed in the Fair programme, e.g. under the headline “Tales of the Barber Surgeon” with indication of a particular time interval within which interested members of the audience may come to Warwik’s camp and learn about the interesting and surprising concepts  of medieval medicine. The talk include i.a. surgery and the four bodily fluids (the Galenean method). Upon special pre-request from the organizers, the audience may also be given the opportunity to experience live leeches – although without any bloodletting.

Audience size: 30-50 persons. If necessary we will use a mobile speaker system (no installations required).

For further information, please contact Janus or Malene by phone (dial information in column to the right).