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

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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

Altered Art book page 3 and 4 ‘A Question of Life and Death’

Posted in MY ALTERED ART BOOK PAGES with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2008 by echostains

p4  altered art book

p4 altered art book

The conversation on Page 4 was one that I found myself joining in with.  The text says;

 

Your mother is dead’ she told him, and he cried because the world had such a dull empty sound.  She tried to explain.  ‘When someone dies’ she said, ‘they go away’

‘When do they come back?

‘They don’t, she said.  They don’t come back.’

Edit: the word because needs printing out again (and spelling correctly)

 I wanted to question that;

Are you sure about that?

(A bit louder) ‘I said,

 

 

page2 detail

page2 detail

 

 

 Are you sure about that?’ 

Obviously, not knowing the answer, I added

‘Is there anyone there?????’

The image on the page is a ‘Spirit’ photo with a ‘Spirit’ standing at the back.  The woman who looks like she has a tablecloth in her mouth is actually emitting ectoplasm: a fascinating substance that seems to have died out now in Spiritual circles.  This ectoplasm eventually gave form to a spirit or so they say, though I’ve yet to hear a spirit confirm this.  The spirit world seems to have moved on now: it’s all mod cons now: orbs are the new phenomena.  Transformation of communication again.

Life and Death are fascinating questions (or are they both statements: facts?).  What IS life? And what exactly IS death?  We know that there IS Life (well, as we know it), but what is death?  Is there life after death?  Perhaps there’s no death, only a kind of life that goes on and on.  I have always been extremely interested in the preservation of dead bodies.   That’s probably due to a subconscious yearning for Everlasting life .  In that sense, I am no different from an ancient Egyptian.

Seti 1
Seti 1

Mummies fascinate me: whether they are embalmed, desiccated (dried out) usually in a hot climate like the dessert

 

 

Peruvian mummy 1200 to 1400

Peruvian mummy 1200 to 1400

 or preserved in watery bogs.

Tollund Man Bog body

Tollund Man Bog body

It is the preservation of the body (and the soul) that interests me.  It was for one of those reasons I went to see Professor Gunther von Hagens ‘Bodyworlds’ exhibition when it came to Brick Lane London in 2002.  

 

Von Hagens, known as the ‘Plastinater’ (I shook hands with that charming man by the way; his hands were cool…) had called into the exhibition to give an interview to a TV station.  There was also red paint (that at first looked like blood) on some of the backstairs: some kind of a demonstration protest had taken place. 

 

 

 

Dr von Hagens Bodyworlds exhibition

Dr von Hagens Bodyworlds exhibition The Plastination process involves removing fats and bodily fluids from the body: this impedes decomposition. The fluids are replaced with certain resins, silicon rubber, epoxy and elastomers. The material is then hardened and cured with light gas and heat, resulting in permanence.Human body from the Bodyworlds exhibition

My husband wasn’t keen on going to this exhibition, but even he thought it was fantastic.  We didn’t find it morbid or grisly though, though it’s hard to get away from the fact that these are dead people.  Some of them are celebrating things they did in real life.  The professor is no artist though and some of the tableaux could be said to be in bad taste.   I think his attempt to ‘lighten’ what is a controversial subject matter, may have backfired somewhat. But I do think that his intentions were honourable and he really wanted to show how these  body parts worked and what went wrong when they didn’t.   It’s not often that we see exactly what a deceased lung looks like…or a brain haemorrhage, yet these and other illnesses kill us.  When I looked at these illnesses, I felt that I was looking  death in the face (the causes of death) and that the ‘mystery’ had gone: the machine had broken: here’s what has broken it.

 

I gazed in wonder at these dead people who looked back at me.  They were just like me: the same species.  Only they were dead and I was Alive, looking at them: looking at these fantastic, miraculous machines – because machines we are: I couldn’t help but be acutely aware of the ONE difference between me and them: the spark of Life  which I hold within myself.  For that reason I found the exhibition a super Life affirming experience.

 

 

 

 Life affirming! Not death affirming, that’s inevitable.

This leads onto the other question though: is there life after death?  Well if there is, we sure don’t need the body to live it.  In that way, that’s where the Ancients went wrong, they thought the soul was nothing without the body it inhabited.

http://www.bodyworlds.com/en.h

At University, in the Foundation years I came across an artist that dealt with the spirit world.  This man claimed that he communicated with the dead and transmuted their communication through his art.  Austin O Spare dealt with the subconscious. O Spare who was very interested in the Occult and Ancient Magic claimed that some of his brushstrokes were directed by spirits: those who inhabited the Spiritual realm and that his art was automatical, springing from the subconscious.    I wrote an essay about this that I will put on this blog called ‘Art and Subconscious’.  O Spare was one of the artists I used in my research.  I first came across O Spare in an article in the Fortean Times (lots of interesting and thought provoking stuff in this magazine). 

http://www.forteantimes.com/

 

 

'Existence' from the Book of Satyrs by Austin Osman Spare

'Existence' from the Book of Satyrs by Austin Osman Spare

  In an interview with Hannen Swaffer, (An extract from Adventures with Inspiration  Hannen Swaffer) O Spare says about his art; –

“In some cases the ideas are the result of my inward psychical experiences,” Mr. Spare told me, “things I have not necessarily seen, or outwardly experienced. In others, the drawings are automatic, started with no idea as to what form they shall take, and completed without conscious direction.

Laugh aloud Zos answered by Austin O Spare

Laugh aloud Zos answered by Austin O Spare

For more info about O Spare;  

 

 http://www.banger.com/spare/index.html

 

http://www.austinspare.co.uk/zos.html

http://www.austinspare.co.uk/zos6.html

Media used page 4; Acrylics, inks, silver card, rafia, photo copied images

Pages 3 and 4

page-two-three-and-extramap

page-two-three-and-extramap