A History of Barber Poles of Edinburgh

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My fascination with barber poles was sparked after my visit to the Surgeons’ Hall Museum in Edinburgh. The iconic barber pole is a sign of the origins of the profession. During medieval times, barbers not only performed surgery on customers, but tooth extractions as well. Now it’s mainly all about hair – and no surgery what-so-ever.

The red-and-white barber poles represent blood and bandages; to let customers know that barbers would be performing bloodletting as well as teeth extraction, cupping, leeching, surgery and enemas.

Taking a walking tour of Edinburgh, my morbid curiosity was sparked but how blood-and-bandage barber poles are still in use to this day.

Let’s take a look…

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