Skeptical tales of conjoined twins: The Biddenden Maids

Although Eng and Chang Bunker made “Siamese” twins famous, they were not the first pair of conjoined siblings to be born and survive into adulthood. However, due to the awe and attention such cases inspire, people have taken advantage of this rarity over the years to earn a fast buck, making many people question the reality of conjoined twins before modern medical science proved them true.

One such example of skepticism is the Biddenden Maids, twin sisters born in 1100 in England, supposedly joined at the shoulder and hip. According to legend, when one of the sisters, Mary, died in 1134, the surviving twin, Eliza, refused to try and have her surgically removed, resulting in her death six hours later. Many have doubted this tale, calling it a vulgar story made up to feed the masses. The nature of their conjoining is lacking in substance as well: it is highly unlikely that the sisters would have two separate parts of conjunction and were instead likely to be joined only at the hip, making them pygopagus twins.