Bogbodies from Europe
During the ironage large parts of North-West Europe were coverred in peat moors . The peat or bog was a swamplike terrain. It consists mostly of partly digested plantremains and is a strong preservative. Organic material is preserved in the bog because of the very low oxigine level and high accidity of the bogwater. Sphagnum/peat-moss also play an important part. Peat-moss is antiseptic wherefore it stops the growth of bacteria for the larger part, yet not completely. The substance in the peat-moss that is responsible for the preservation is named sphagnan. It makes the bogbodies look like they were tanned and gives them the caracteristic brown colour. The red haircolour that all bogbodies share, is also do to the time they spend in the bog. Many enzymes bind with this sphagnan and stop working as enzymes. This stops the decay of organic material in the bog. It does not do so completely but the decay is slowed down to a very slow pase indeed. Usually
only the bones and the skin are preserved but on some instances soft tissue like organs or hair were preserved as well ans in some cases textiles.
These vast peat moors are allmost completly gone because of peat digging in the past, only small patches remain. The men working as peatdiggers sometimes found remains from a distant past like jewelry, pottery and textiles. Also remains of roads made of wooden planks, a wooden temple, bodies of animals and food like bread and fruits were found.
But the most famous finds froom the bog are the human bodies., known as bogbodies.
Many of the hundreds of bogbodies found were reburried at the local cemetery after having been discovered. Some were discarded as trash or grinded tp a powder thought to be a medican (Mummica). So many more bogbodies were found then were preserved. Of some finds we have photographs, of others a short mention in an old newspaper....
Oldest known photograph of a bogbody on the original location, may 1th 1892, Nederfrideriksmose.
Not all bogbodies are from the same timeperiod. Some date from the bronze age, others date from the Ironage or Roman period and there is a numbre of mediaval bogbodies. Most bogbodies were placed in the bog between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D.
People once thought that bogbodies were the remains of poor souls lost in the bog and drowned. Some suggested they were convicted criminals. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote in his book Germania about the habit of Germanic tribes to sacrifice wapens to the waters in the bog. Many of these objects have been found by archaeologists. But Tacitus also discribes how convicted crimanals were drowned in the bog. We know believe that most bogbodies were human sacrifices to the gods. Clues are the violent nature of there deaths and the way the bodies were placed in the bog after death. Many had there throughts cute or were hanged. Some bogbodies were found pinned down in the bog with branches. A remarkable high percentage of bogbodies have some physical abnormality and several had half of there skull shaved...? The exact meaning of this is not known. In all the bogs of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Great Britain and the Netherlands have revealed over 2000 bogbodies.
These bodies are often thousands of years old and offer us a chance to learn more about the daily life of these people. The smallest details like clothing or even the remains of a last meal are recognizable. But despite of the fact we can learn so much from these bodies from an are that we know so little about, we should not forget that we are dealing with the physical remains of real people, like you and me. They should always be treated with resect. We hope that nobody is offended by the following list of bogbodies.
The different discriptions of bogbodies have been placed on different pages depending on the country where the bogbodies were found.
You can find these pages by clicking on one of the pictures below.
At the bottom of the page htere is a list with bogbodies in chronological order.
Do you know of a bogbody that is not in our list? Let us know!