“Strange things happen in the bog.” – Redux

[Image from RTÉ report] Prehistoric human remains found partially buried in a leather bag in a bog near Portlaoise, County Laois, by Bord na Móna workers yesterday are believed to be the over 2,000 year-old body of a sacrificial victim, possibly a young woman.  Here’s a 2007 National Geographic article on Iron Age Europe’s bog bodies.  And from today’s Irish Times report

Mr [Eamonn] Kelly [keeper at the National Museum’s Irish antiquities division] said the body would initially have been buried at a considerable depth.

The body, which is estimated to be more than 2,000 years old, was found in a leather bag. It was discovered in the Cul na Móna Bog near Portlaoise.

Conditions including highly acidic water, low temperature and a lack of oxygen combine to preserve bog bodies. In the process skin is severely tanned, giving it a leathery appearance.

Mr Kelly attributed significance to the location of the body.

“We can’t tell if it is Iron Age, but it has been found on an ancient tribal boundary, a characteristic of other finds of Iron Age date,” he said.

He said burying bodies on tribal boundaries was “an observed practice” during the Iron Age and this body did seem to fit to that description, though it was too early to be certain.

A second Irish Times report adds

The museum said the find was one of very few bog bodies discovered in situ, which meant not only the remains but its intact environment could be studied.

Speaking at the site, Ned Kelly, keeper at the museum’s Irish antiquities division, said there had been over 100 bog bodies found in Ireland, but many were not well preserved and some were just parts of bodies removed from their sites and found inside milling machines.

“At present we can see a pair of legs, which are quite well preserved, probably the best preserved part of the body,” he said. “On preliminary examination we can be reasonably certain that it is a late prehistoric bog body.”

He said at this stage he did not know the precise age or gender of the individual, but the body could be that of a young woman.

“This was probably a ritual deposition of a human sacrifice.”

The body is estimated to be over 2,000 years old. It appears the torso and head, which were in a leather bag, did not survive. The legs, however, were not enclosed by the bag and were preserved by chemicals in the peat.

The body will be removed to the National Museum of Ireland for further investigation and preservation.  The museum has two other Iron Age bog bodies, found in Ireland in 2003, on exhibition.

As we know, “Strange things happen in the bog.”

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  • Brian

    Just more proof that the Brits have been persecuting us for all of eternity.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Saw the bog bodies in the National Museum earlier in the week, quite creepy!

  • ForkHandles

    “Strange things happen in the bog.”
    Deary me, I’ve had a few dodgy ones myself I’ll tell ya !

  • lamhdearg

    “This was probably a ritual deposition of a human sacrifice.”
    Pre christian Ireland was such a jolly place.

  • Brian


    Christian Ireland, at least after 1169, wasn’t such a jolly place either.

  • Pete Baker

    And back to the actual topic…

  • I wonder if archeologists in 2000 years time will be discovering some of the “disappeared”.

  • Am I missing something? A yellow card to Brian for a glib remark. Hope it’s because he misbehaved on another thread.

  • I saw Lindow man (?) in the British Museum. Fascinating but chilling.

  • lamhdearg

    don’t mess with the dead *** they have eerie powers, quote from whom, i really do not think we should do this, leave the dead alone.

  • wee buns

    The preservative qualities of the bog are astounding. Having recently stumbled down a spiral enclosure at the National History Museum, I was greeted by a severed torso in a glass case, with red hairs standing up on his arms, intact fingernails and every crease on the swarthy skin as if he were alive only yesterday. A very impressive experience; like time travel?

    The theory that these people were sacrificed (often willingly they reckon) to the Goddess deity seems to be shared by those who study the many bog body finds in Denmark & Germany.
    Danish Tolland man (295BC) had a last meal of 65 seeds and a gentle content expression on his face.
    While Lindow man’s last meal was mistletoe bread.
    Schleswig man had his genitals removed, diffusing his procreative power & assuring his seed remained with the Goddess alone, and like Tolland man was no commoner!

  • Why are yellow cards going beyond 24 hours. Hope this comment doesn’t result in an extension.

  • http://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/poems/heaney/the_tollund_man.php

    Especially the last stanza:

    Out here in Jutland
    In the old man-killing parishes
    I will feel lost,
    Unhappy and at home.