Early evidence of surgery in Great Britain is recorded after the arrival of Claudius in 43 AD. Surgical instruments1,2 that were recently discovered during an archaeological excavation in a Roman doctor's house in Colchester (the oldest recorded Roman town in England) (Figure 1) resemble the instruments used in ancient Egypt (Figure 2). In 1216, a papal edict required that priests not practice surgery lest they shed blood. Consequently, surgery passed from priests to barbers, the more skilled of whom became known as surgeons and were referred to as "leeches." In London in 1300, a Fellowship of Surgeons was established to assess and accredit surgeons. War between England and France during the next 200 years brought about the emergence of the surgeon as a vital part of the King's Army. In 1540, formal recognition of surgeons was provided by King Henry VIII, who granted a royal charter that amalgamated the Company of Barbers and the Fellowship of Surgeons. Two hundred years later, in 1745, the surgeons separated from the barbers, and in 1800 they established the Royal College of Surgeons in London. In Scotland, a college was established in Edinburgh as early as 1505, and it became a royal college in 1778. In Glasgow, a faculty of physicians and surgeons was established in 1599, but it did not become a royal college until 1962. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland was established in Dublin in 1784, while Ireland was still under British rule.