The Tale of the Frozen Horse’s Head by Kenneth Ross

Here is a rather gruesome tale from Anatomical training.

Read more information about Kenneth’s working life first job and Memory of working life memory 2>>>>>

“A Biologist has to ensure that his future wife can withstand sights that the faint might do just that;  remember I did Anatomy at Med School in Edinburgh.  

Many years ago I was required to demonstrate the differences in dentition between a Carnivore and Herbivore and so seeking the jaw of the latter I contacted Edinburgh Zoo where elderly horses were slaughtered to feed the lions. I was told that they would have a jaw for me on a particular Saturday. 

Being a Scot and realising that this would be an official visit and so needn’t pay for admission to the Zoo I took my fiancée along so that we could get free entry and have a look around at the same time as collecting my jaw.   I turned up at the Lion House and introduced myself.  ‘Yes’ I was told, ‘We have a good large head for you’.  Now it never entered my head that I would be handed anything other than a beautifully cleaned upper and lower jaw and so was a bit taken aback when presented with a great, bloody head.  ‘Where’s your car? ’ I was asked.   Well we hadn’t driven and had come by bus.  ‘Never mind, we’ll wrap it up for you’, and soon I was presented with my head wrapped in brown paper and so Mary and I had to forego our free tour round the Zoo and retrace our steps to the bus stop with me carrying a large brown parcel containing my horses upper and lower jaw.  Another thing on which I hadn’t counted was the fact that at the Zoo the jaw had been kept  in a refrigerator awaiting my arrival, and by the time we reached the bus stop the blessed thing was decidedly thawing out and a stain beginning to appear through the wrapping paper.   On boarding our bus I left the jaw where one leaves luggage without drawing attention to myself;  just as well for when I hurriedly picked it up on reaching our destination there was a pool of blood in the luggage compartment.  

Anyway, we reached Mary’s digs but here we were on a Saturday morning with a whacking great, bloody, horse’s jaw; no fridge and the awareness that the thing would be stinking by Monday morning. Fortunately Mary had a large galvanised pail and soon the jaw was simmering away on the gas cooker and a few hours later I was able to take the jaw out and dissect away most of the meat- but now I was left with a considerable pile of flesh and what to do with that.   Must shorten this story. I wrapped the meat up in newspaper and took it along a street until I found a bus stop where there was a large container hanging on the stop for the disposal of used tickets.   I had to walk past the stop a couple of times to ensure there was no-one waiting: incidentally by this time my newspaper covered head was beginning to steam.   No-one at the stop –  I dropped my parcel into the container and made a hurried retreat.  I can just picture someone arriving at the stop and seeing a parcel steaming and opening it with some curiosity. (these were the days before bomb scares).  I wonder if the ambulance service had to be called to deal with someone who had collapsed with shock for it could have been a dismembered body.  Come to think of it does Edinburgh City Police still have an open file on the human remains found at a bus stop at Tollcross.   Mary needless to say survived the unexpected Test and my demonstration was very successful and no-doubt memorable to the students to whom I recounted this tale in somewhat fewer words.”

Memory contributed via email by Kenneth Ross, Forres

Additional Information
Kenneth has been involved in the Falconer Museum since he came up to Forres in 1969 to work at the new Forres Academy. Details in the Memory of working life 2 article.


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