The Netherlands

About 65 bogbodies have been found in the Netherlands, mostly men, sometimes a woman or a child. They were often killed by stangulation and their bodies then placed in the bog. In the collection of the Drents Museum 7 bodies have been saved. This means that the Drents Museum has the largest collection of bogbodies in the world. Best known are the Yde girl and the men of Nieuw-Weerdinge.


Yde girl

On may 12th 1897 while working in a small bog near the village of Yde in Drenthe, a black head with red hair was found by 2 peatdiggers. They first tried to hide the body underneath some turf but 3 days later their find made the newspaper.

YdedetailOn may 21th the mayor of the nearby village of Vries warned the provincial Museum in Assen. In a letter he discribed the remains as followed:
‘the skin is blue-ish, the head almost complete but to the right cheek that has been hurt… the mouth open and the teeth visible. Long reddish hair on the left of the skull; the rightside seems smoothly shaven… Neck, shoulders upperbody (skin and bones only fit together well; also the arms are partly present.
…further … a foot, the nails still on the toos; a hand, all fingers complete, the tumb still with nail. Also fished out of the bog: a hipbone, kneebone and some other bones… The foot and hand are small and the bones not coarse, wich makes me think it most be a woman. Other remains found were: a piece of worked textile… [and a] cloth or band… wrapped around the neck several times.’
(citefrom Van der Sanden, 1994, 30). Translated by Den Blauwen Swaen

When the mayor return to the site a few days later with mister J.G.C. Joosting, boardmember of the museum, the small body had been ill treated by the locals.
The hair had been pulled out of the skull (they had lifted the girl by her hair), all teeth but one had been removed and a bone from the knee, mentioned in the letter was missing. The girl was transported to the museum in a casket, the trunk of an oak tree found next to the girl was left behind.
In Assen the body was dried on the floor! dr. W. Pleyte, archaeologist at the Rijksmuseum of antiquities in Leiden wanted the body to go to Leiden but the museum in Assen wanted to keep the body while the chairman of the museumboard still thought the remains were that of an ape.
In 1955 the remains were investigated further.

yde_voetje Research showed that underneath the girls foot, pollen types of trees and plants were found that lived in the region around 200 and 500 A.D.
Later C14-research showed that the girl most have lived between 54 B.C. and 128 A.D.; The end of the Ironage and the beginning of the Roman period.

The body was damaged when it was found and in the first period after the find, before being transported to the museum, some things disapeared or were left in the bog. Also some parts of the body had been better preserved in the bog then other parts. Pieces of skin of the upperbody have been preserves, from the lowerbody we only have a few bones.
On the upperbody the breast are faintly recognizable and the shape of the pelvis show the body is female. The skull and bones suggest it must have been a girl as young as 16 years old. The hair found with the body was 21 centimetres long. The reddish colour was caused by the bog, the girl had blond hair.
Ahesions in the spine of the girl tel us she didn’t stand or walked strait up, her rightfoot turned inward, she suffered from scoliose.
She was about 1.40 metre long, the body like all bogbodies had shrunk a bit during it’s stay in the bog.

yde_hoofdWith the Yde girl 2 pieces of textile were found. One was a braided band made in the sprang technique that had been wrapped around her neck 3 times and pulled tight with a slipknot. The band is now 125 centimetres long and 4 centimetres wide, but it was once about 220 centimetres long. The other piece of textile must have been a woolen mantle, woven of badly spun wool, with flaws in the weaving and untidy repairs.
Next to the strangulation, the girl was also stabbed.
The dagger cut her left carotid, and this cut is still visible just below the sprangband. The girl must have died very quickly.

The Yde girl was probably sacrificed to the gods, the oak trunk that was found next to her body could have been part of a ceremony, just like the shaving of half her head. Maybe her physical handicap made her special?
Or maybe she was punished for a crime? We’ll never know…

Yde-reconstructieIn 1993 Richard Neave of the University of Manchester made a facial reconstruction of the Yde girl. This reconstruction is also on display at the Drents Museum.

Volg het bord Yde girl van DenBlauwen op Pinterest.

nieuw_weerdingeoudDe mannen van Nieuw-Weerdinge

The Nieuw-Weerdinge men are 2 bogbodies found on june 29th 1904 by peatdigger Hilbrand Gringhuis in the Weerdingerveen within the Bourtangerveen.
The bodies were carefully excavated and then one body placed ontop of the other, rolled up! and placed in a starch box and taken to the mortuary of the cemetery of Nieuw-Weerdinge. The photograph below was taken there.

nieuw-weerdingenInitially people thought the bodies were of a man and a woman and they became known as the ‘(married) couple’ of Nieuw-Weerdinge.
This was because on 1 body the male gender is clearly visible while on the other body the lower body has not been preserved and it is impossible to tell if it’s a man or woman. Also the ‘woman’ is lying on top of the man’s arm. It looks almost as if the man is holding his ‘wife’, a romantic image. DNA research has proven the bodies are both male and both had a different mother.
nieuw-weerdingen_darmenThe bodies date from the late Ironage or Roman period. No remains of clothing were found. The bogbody on the right (old picture on the left) probably died of a large knifewound in his abdomen. His bowels are visible outside of his body. On the left of the picture below you can see the arm lying across the chest, on the right the mans bowels.
The bones have for the largest part not been preserved but some internal organs have, including the stomach. That is why we know what one of the man had as his last meal. It must have been a kind of poridge made of old types of grain.
He also eat some blackberries which tells us in what season he must have died, late summer. .
nieuw-weerdingen_baardWere these man sacrifized to the gods and intentionaly placed in the bog in this embrace? Maybe they were convicted criminals or simply robbed and killed…
Only fragments of the skulls have been saved including the hairs of the beards.
Volg het bord Ref~Weerdinge Men van DenBlauwen op Pinterest.

emmen-erfscheiderveenDe man van Emmer-Erfscheidenveen

In 1938 in the Emmer-Erfscheidenveen a male bogbody was found.
Ity was taken to the antiquatiesroom De Hondsrug in Emmen.
In 1986 It was transported to the Drents Museum in Assen where the body is on dispplay.

emmen-erfscheiderveen_mutsThe man was wrapped in a cape made of calfskin with some branched inside aswell; also found were a cap made of a sheepskin, a shoe of deerskin and fragments of a woven woolen garment. The fact that so much clothing was found makes him special, most male bogbodies from the Ironage have been found naked.
emmen-erfscheiderveen_schoeWe assume that the man died a violent death but a relitively small part of the mans body has been preserved so we can not be sure of the way he died. He lived during the Ironage, about 1200 B.C. These are the oldest human remains that include soft tissue ever found in the Netherlands. Yhe clothes are also among the oldest of the country.
Volg het bord Emmer-Erfscheidenveen man van DenBlauwen op Pinterest.

zweeloorugzijdeDe vrouw van Zweeloo/Grebbeveen

Zweeloo woman is the body of a woman from the Roman period.
She was found in 1951 in the bog near Zweeloo and not long after she was taken to the Laboratorium for Anatomy en Embryology in Groningen were she was conserved by putting her body in a glycerine bath, then the best means of preservation available. It is for that reason that the Zweeloo woman is the only one of the bogbodies with a stil supple skin. The other Dutch bogbodies had been found at a much earlier date and had simply been dried, making the skin shriveled and hard.
were preserved and most of her bones.
Zweeloo woman was not very tall, 1,55 metre. She was infected with round-worms and whipworms. She also had extremly short lowerarms and legs, probably caused by a disease. A striking numbre of bogbodies have been found with some physical anomaly in their anatomy. we are not sure why that is, were they considered special, closer to the gods?
She is sometimes named the bogbody of the Grebbeveen?
Since 2010 Zweeloo woman is part of a traveling exhibition on mummies that wil visit Los Angeles, Boston, Philiadelphia, Houston, St. Louis, Chicago and Minneapolis. In 2013 she will return to Assen and will be on display there as part of this exhibition in het Drents Museum.

Volg het bord Zweeloo woman van DenBlauwen op Pinterest.

De man van Aschbroeken

This bogbody from the late Bronzeage, about 900 B.C. was found in 1931 in the Bourtangerveen near Emmen. Shortly after the find, the skull was lost. Aschbroeken man was aboud 1, 70 metre in hight and had once broken his right upperarm. It had not healed properly and this probably caused his arm to be slightly bended outwards. In Wijnand van der Sanden’ book ‘vereeuwigd in het veen’ there is a picture of the skeleton of Zweeloo woman (see previous bodboy) with the note: Aschbroekenman. After a conversation with the archaeologists and curators of the Drents Museum where both bodies are kept, I’m sure this is not correct. The same confusion can be found in ‘Mens en Moeras’. There is mention of a skull (and Aschbroeken mans skull was lost) and of short armbones (found in the Zweeloo woman).

Volg het bord Aschbroeken man van DenBlauwen op Pinterest.

exloermondDe man van Exloërmond

Exloërmond man is an Ironage bogbody. It was eximened in the 1930-ies in Roemenia.
Exloërmond mans stomach has been preserved and research showed that during the final 24 hours before his death he eat barley (Hordeum vulgare) and millet (Panicum miliaceum). The barley was probably eaten as a form of bread, the millet more likely in a poridge. He had also consumed a type of legume.

wijsterhandjeThe bogbodies of Wijster were a group of 4 bodies that were placed in the bog during the late Middle Ages. The people in this region had been Christians for many centuries but there are signes that the men were sacrificed. After their death the 4 men were placed in a pit in the bog in a sitting position. The pit was then covered with elderbranches and burried.

These late 16th century bogbodies were found on july 5th 1901 by peatdigger Lenze Bakker. Hij found 3 bogbodies and reported this to the mayor and the constable who at further investigation found parts of the 4th body..

A decorated red woolen jacket, a darkgreen knee-breeches with genital pouch and a darkbrown leather vest were also found. The Drents Museum made a reconstruction of these garments. One of the bodies was identified as a boy not older then 16 jaar.

A ‘Spainish’ coookingpot with 16 coins inside was found next to the bodies. Unfortunately of the bodies itself only one hand and sume skull fragment has been saved.

Volg het bord Wijster men van DenBlauwen op Pinterest.

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