The Anatomy Act granted permission to the anatomy department of the
to be allowed to use the
bodies of criminals who had been hanged or otherwise executed for the purposes
of learning about anatomy. It also allowed for the homeless who had no one claim their bodies, and who then became the property of the Council, to be given over to the
anatomy department. University of Edinburgh's Medical School
To prevent their loved ones from being disinterred, family members of the poorer of the city's populace would take turns sitting vigil at the graveside of their dearly departed for three to five days, thinking that after this length of time, the bodies would be of no value to the grave-robbers.
The more well-heeled would pay for mortsafes to keep their loved ones safely in the ground. These two are at Greyfriar's Cemetery in
Some cemeteries such as St Cuthbert's and New Calton have watch towers, where someone would sit guard through the night, which is when the bodysnatchers would be busy plying their trade.
Another oddity in some of the older cemeteries in Scotland are Mort Houses. These buildings housed bodies when the ground was frozen until such a time as the grounds could be worked and the graves dug.