Long-deceased humans found in peat bogs
February 29, 2024 4:08 AM   Subscribe

"Archaeologists in Northern Ireland have uncovered well-preserved remains of a teenage boy dating back up to 2,500 years - including bones, skin and possibly a kidney - in a rare find that may shed new light on the region's ancient history." Did you know that Wikipedia has a page entitled "List of bog bodies"? Now you do. The Finns have bog bodies, and peat bogs have a special role in Finland [PDF]. Finally, van Beek, Quik, Bergerbrant, Huisman, and Kama have conducted an exciting large-scale overview study [PDF] "of well-dated human remains from northern European mires, based on a database of 266 sites and more than 1000 bog mummies, bog skeletons and disarticulated/partial skeletal remains."

van Beek, Roy, Cindy Quik, Sophie Bergerbrant, Floor Huisman, and Pikne Kama. "Bogs, bones and bodies: the deposition of human remains in northern European mires (9000 BC–AD 1900)." Antiquity 97, no. 391 (2023): 120-140.

Pusa, Tiina, Riikka Haapalainen, and Helena Sederholm. "In the Bogs of Joukahainen and Väinämöinen: The Alchemies of Peat from Sacred to Profane and Back." (2023).
Bog bodies have appeared previously on the blue.
posted by cupcakeninja (11 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I believe the body in the first link, they were not sure if it wasn't a newly deceased young man (and his corpse was missing it's head.)

Requisite Seamus Heaney excerpt from "The Tollund Man"


Some day I will go to Aarhus*
To see his peat-brown head,
The mild pods of his eye-lids,
His pointed skin cap.
In the flat country near by
Where they dug him out,
His last gruel of winter seeds
Caked in his stomach,
Naked except for
The cap, noose and girdle,
I will stand a long time.
Bridegroom to the goddess,
She tightened her torc on him
And opened her fen,
Those dark juices working
Him to a saint's kept body,
Trove of the turfcutters'
Honeycombed workings.
Now his stained face
Reposes at Aarhus.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:24 AM on February 29 [20 favorites]

I saw Lindow Man aka Pete Marsh at the British Museum. Made me slightly sad he was just on display under glass.
posted by el_presidente at 5:34 AM on February 29 [3 favorites]

I believe the body in the first link, they were not sure if it wasn't a newly deceased young man (and his corpse was missing it's head.)

That's what the NY Times' article this morning was reporting, especially since they were searching in nearby bogs for a person who was killed in the 1970s.

I've seen a few of the bodies in museums, and they are both fascinating and creepy, all at the same time.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:49 AM on February 29 [2 favorites]

Whoa, thanks, Dip Flash. I prepped this post a week or so ago, hadn't seen about the NYT article -- thanks for linking.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:55 AM on February 29

When a skull was discovered in a bog in Britain in the 80s, a nearby resident confessed to the murder of his wife. That was before it was determined that the skull was from Roman times.

This is fascinating to me because I think a lot about Newgrange in the winter, as you do, and about how little we know about the people living in Ireland at the time. Still, it would have been better to find a body that could help put a family at peace.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:21 AM on February 29 [8 favorites]

When hide and seek goes horribly wrong...
posted by Naberius at 6:24 AM on February 29 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Minor edits to hide raw urls from appearing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:40 AM on February 29

I was in London in the early 90’s, and went to the British Museum. I went to see the Lindow Man, who I nicknamed the Freeze Dried Man. When I got to the exhibit I found him missing. There was some sort of Exhibit Closed sign but no info. I went over to the nearest security person and asked them where the Freeze Dried Man was. “He’s on holiday in Manchester for six months,” was the reply. We both laughed.
posted by njohnson23 at 6:41 AM on February 29 [7 favorites]

Mummified bog men on display in museums suddenly going missing is very 1970s era Doctor Who.

They're either hibernating aliens mistaken for mummified bog men, alien robots designed to look like mummified bog men, or hibernating humans infected with some sort of mutagenic plague virus which turned them into mummified bog men, take your pick.

Just get out of the museum. Quickly.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:52 AM on February 29 [9 favorites]

Really makes me wonder what benign cannibalism is occurring in the scotch I enjoy…
posted by rubatan at 10:19 AM on February 29

My grandmother refused to ever eat lobster for that reason. They're bottom-dwelling and they'll eat whatever or whoever sinks their way.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 10:48 AM on February 29

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