Archive for bog bodies

More Bog Bodies – Ireland

Posted in BODIES IN PRESERVATION, HISTORY with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2010 by echostains

old croghan man cut in half

The peat bogs of Ireland hold many treasures and are a rich source of bog bodies.  The properties of the peat preserves these ancient peoples – even the contents of their last meal.

oldcroghan nipples cut, stabbed in ribs, later beheaded and dismembered

In 2006 two bog bodies of men were found and displayed in Dublin.  One, a giant of a man (6ft 6in) had manicured nails, he was called  Oldcroghan (after the place he was found).  The other,  (Clonycavan man) measured only 5ft 2 in and had a piled up hair style (just like me – and about the same height too!).  To hold this hairstyle together, he wore a kind of hair gel!  And they women are vain!

clonycavan man

Both men seem to have been part of  elite, not manual labourers: both were murdered.  the whole article about them, which makes interesting reading.

the peat has looked after his hair

But it isn’t only men who are found in bogs.  There is  Meenybradden woman.  She was found in 1978 in a peat bog.  Her body was wrapped in a woollen cloak and does not appear to have met a grisly end.  Her age is estimated to be between 25 and 30.  She was at one time the best preserved body – until the body got damaged in the deep freeze!  Unfortunately I can’t get a decent image of what is left of the woman.

The Bog Bodies by P V Glob, my first encounter with bog bodies

Bog bodies are fascinating, they can tell us so much about ourselves and how we lived.  A lot have been destroyed (unintentionally)  by peat cutting machinery, but there must be lots lying silently, more just waiting to be discovered.

I have other posts about bodies found in bogs here and here

It looks like these bodies are still on display at the Dublin National Museum of Ireland

More bog bodies here

More Bodies from the Bog: Grauballe Man

Posted in BODIES IN PRESERVATION with tags , , , , on February 19, 2010 by echostains

Grauballe Man

Another Bog body that I find fascinating is ‘Grauballe’ man.   When I first read ‘The Bog People’ by Professor PV Glob, this was the body that frightened me the most.  Over time though I don’t seem to see the horror any more – just the near perfect preservation of a man who was murdered all that time ago in history (not a nice subject I know) and I feel such pity for that poor man and what he must have suffered  – his throat cut and his skull fractured.

the hand of Grauballe Man

Grauballe man has the best preserved  Iron age body.   Carbon dating places him as living about 55 B.C !   He lay in the peat which preserved him until he was found in 1952 in the village Grauballe in Denmark.  His hair is remarkably spectacular, though the chemicals in the peat have turned it red.   His nails are perfect and his wonderfully preserved fingerprints have been taken!  Was he sacrificed?  No one knows for sure.  His age was about 30 and studies have discovered that he was in the early stages of gout and suffered from arthritus.  Grauballe man was naked apart from a strange cord around his neck.

The Bog Bodies by P V Glob

Tests have also revealed his last supper, still in his intestines, a kind of porridge made of many different grain.

gauballe man

This poem was written about him.  The poet is Seamus Heiney, a well known Irish poet who had a strange fascination for things found in bogs – just like me.

The Grauballe Man

As if he had been poured
in tar, he lies
on a pillow of turf
and seems to weep

the black river of himself.
The grain of his wrists
is like bog oak,
the ball of his heel

like a basalt egg.
His instep has shrunk
cold as a swan’s foot
or a wet swamp root.

His hips are the ridge
and purse of a mussel,
his spine an eel arrested
under a glisten of mud.

The head lifts,
the chin is a visor
raised above the vent
of his slashed throat

that has tanned and toughened.
The cured wound
opens inwards to a dark
elderberry place.

Who will say ‘corpse’
to his vivid cast?
Who will say ‘body’
to his opaque repose?

And his rusted hair,
a mat unlikely
as a foetus’s.
I first saw his twisted face

in a photograph,
a head and shoulder
out of the peat,
bruised like a forceps baby,

but now he lies
perfected in my memory,
down to the red horn
of his nails,

hung in the scales
with beauty and atrocity:
with the Dying Gaul
too strictly compassed

on his shield,
with the actual weight
of each hooded victim,
slashed and dumped.

There are lots more of Heaney’s poems on this excellent site HERE

More facts about Grauballe from his resting place in Moesgard Museum

Another of my posts about bog bodies HERE

Want to see a reconstruction of how he may have looked? HERE

Bog bodies – speak from beyond the grave

Posted in BODIES IN PRESERVATION, HISTORY with tags , , , , , , on February 5, 2010 by echostains

Lindow Man or Pete Moss

I put a bog body image in my last post (like you do…).  I am fascinated with the preservation of bodies.  I was lucky enough to see Lindow Man (or Pete Moss as he is affectionately called) in Manchester Museum not long after he was found and couldn’t get over how small he was!.  I have been interested in bog bodies ever since reading Professor P V Glob’s books in the 1970s.  I never knew such mummies even existed.

Tollund man

At first I was just curious and a little repulsed by them.  But as I read more about them, I began become feel a kind of kinship with  these men and women who inhabited a world alien to me now (who really knows if we have lived before, or if there is such a thing as collective consciousness?).   I’d like to think so. The harsh existence these people faced: the Gods they worshipped – the very frailties of their lives.  The clues are all there.  Even the food they ate and what season they died in has been discovered  through their autopsies.

The Tollund man does not sleep easy

Amongst my favorite bog bodies is the Tollund man.  he is preserved and displayed in the Silkeborg Museum.  How I would love to see him!  The tranquil look on his ‘sleeping’ face belies the hideous leather garrote  twisted into his  neck.  even his leather cap is a work of art, the tiny stitches still being visible from 400BC!  the stubble on his chin, his beautiful fingerprints (which have been taken) are things of wonder.  Even the pores of his skin are visible, though the rest of his body has disintegrated.  The man was found in the foetal position, naked except for his hat and hide belt.It is the acid in the peat that preserves these bodies.  Unfortunately some them have been lost or have been damaged by the peat cutter.  It is indeed amazing how these silent sentinels offer up their secrets.  It’s even more miraculous that we have the technology to understand our past!

More info HERE

Archaeology of bogs HERE 

Irish Bog Bodies HERE

Tollund man image from here and here

PS