Heraldry has been described as ‘the shorthand of history’ because of the wealth of information that heraldic signs and symbols can reveal about families, organisations and wider societies. But it is not just an historical curiosity: heraldry remains a living art and science with coats of arms in widespread use and new ones granted every year. Radiologists of course are also familiar with signs: the characteristic appearances of different pathologies on medical images. How might these two very different semiotic worlds come together? How might the concepts of radiology be represented in coats of arms and other heraldic devices?

These questions arose recently when the British Institute of Radiology (BIR) decided to apply for a grant of arms to mark its 125th anniversary. As part of the process of designing the arms, research was carried out into logos and insignia used historically by the BIR, and also into existing coats of arms connected to radiology.


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Stephen Keevil is Head of Medical Physics at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Medical Physics at King’s College London. He is the current President of the BIR and a Trustee of the British Society for the History of Radiology. Steve has had an interest in heraldry and related matters since childhood, having first joined the Heraldry Society at the age of 11. He designed the BIR’s achievement of arms in collaboration with Chester Herald at the College of Arms. Steve is a ‘progressive traditionalist’, keen to see traditions such as heraldry preserved, but also evolve so as to remain alive and relevant in modern society.




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The X-ray Department at Acton Hospital.

The British Institute of Radiology at 125 Years, by Adrian Thomas.

Recent Publications:

• The Lightning Tamers, by Kathy Joseph.
• Existential Physics, by Sabine Hossenfelder.
• Paul Langevin: The Father of Ultrasonics, by F A Duck, & AMK Thomas.
• Paul Langevin: The Father of Ultrasound, by Francis Duck.
• Milestones in dosimetry for nuclear medicine therapy, by J. Gear.
• Max von Laue: Intrepid and True:), by Jost Lemmerich.
• The Society of Radiographers: 100 Years, by R Price and A Paterson.
• Another Nobel Physics prize. A Different Maria, by David Thwaites.
• Marie Sklodowska-Curie and Polonium, by David Thwaites.
• Invisible Light: The Remarkable Story of Radiology, by Adrian Thomas.
• IOMP: The International Organization for Medical Physics.

Röntgen on a Trade Card.

The Lightning Tamers by Kathy Joseph (Flier).

James William Gifford, 1856-1930. A letter from 1996 written by the late Derek Guttery.

“The Development of Diagnostic Radiology in Britain 1896-1921, and factors influencing its growth”, by Jean Guy.









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About the speaker:

Dr Ash Chakraborty is a consultant paediatric radiologist based in Oxford, with sub-specialty interests in paediatric intervention, paediatric oncological imaging and paediatric cardiac imaging.  He has previously been involved in various roles in the RCR including Head of FRCR examination, Professional Learning and Development and FRCR Reform Project Board. He is currently Head of Department of Radiology for the Oxford Medical School, and is the Director of a Global Radiology Training Project. 


History of Radiology session Liverpool UKIO, 6 June 2023


Report of ‘History of Radiology’ session Liverpool UKIO, 6 June 2023

by Dr Arpan K Banerjee Chair ISHRAD (International Society for the History of Radiology), Trustee and Past Chair Brit Soc History of Radiology

It was a delight this year to have an annual radiology imaging and oncology congress in person again and this was held in the ACC, Liverpool. The well attended radiology history session organised by the BSHR was held on the morning of Tuesday 6 June and consisted of two talks with the session chaired by Elizabeth Beckmann.

The first talk was on ‘The Early days of radiology in India’ and was delivered by Dr Arpan K Banerjee.

In the Western radiology literature there is very little written on the history of the early days of Indian radiology. In the late 19 century The British ruled India with the capital based in Calcutta until 1911. The contributions of early radiology researchers in India was described. The talk started by setting the historical setting and the geography of India as it was at the turn of the twentieth century. The subcontinent then of course included the current India as well as Pakistan and the current Bangladesh. The role of the early pioneers in India were described including important contribution of Dr Sircar of Calcutta in Bengal who is believed to have taken the first X-ray in India in Calcutta. Dr Sircar was a champion of modern science and believed strongly in the education of women a man ahead of his time. He used X-ray equipment from a French manufacturer based in Paris. The important role of the early medical schools in Calcutta ( now called Kolkata), Madras and Delhi were described. In addition the important contributions of the Indian physicist, botanist and polymath J C Bose was also presented. He conducted important studies at the Presidency college in Calcutta in the late1890s on his return from the UK and even corresponded with Tagore the giant of Indian literature and Nobel Laureate about this.

The second talk was delivered by Dr Adrian Thomas on ‘1923 and all that. Reflections on the centenary of the death day of Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen’

In his talk the early days of Röntgen’s life were described. Röntgen did not have a brilliant early scholastic career. He spent a part of his early childhood in Apeldoorn in Holland. He initially studied engineering and it was only after he was taken under the wings of the Physics Professor Kundt did Rontgen’s career start to flourish. Röntgen married Anna Bertha Ludwig a lady six years older than him. They had no children together but adopted Anna ‘s brother’s son when Anna‘s brother died. Rontgen held a number of chairs before finally being appointed in Wurzburg as a professor of physics. His contributions on the 8th of November 1895 are of course well known. He received the Nobel prize in 1901.

The relationship between Rontgen and Philip Lennard was described. Lenard was somewhat jealous of Rontgen’s fame. Röntgen finally moved to Munich in 1901 the year in which he was awarded the first Nobel Prize in physics. The talk was illustrated with images from his birthplace in Remscheid and the laboratory where he conducted his famous experiments in Wurzburg both sites which can be visited by the public.

The BSHR stand this year was on the theme on Rontgen with the famous poster of Rontgen in colours from the Rontgen museum as well stamps honouring the great man’s achievements. Thanks are due to Adrian and Johanna for their work on the stand and also to Tina and Arpan Banerjee for helping man the stand with Adrian and Johanna over the three days. It was nice to see so many delegates stop by and have a chat about the society.