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Bogbodies from Scandinavië

In Scandinavië people dug for pite for centuries, it is still done in some places be it on a very small scale. During this pitedigging several bodies were discovered, especially in Denmark. Here also the earliest finds were not preserved. One of these early finds was made in Odense on juni 4th 1773. A local newspaper reports about it and this article is mentioned by Glob. It was discribed as a male body found with it's arms crossed behind it's back, as if his hands had been tied behind his back. The man was naked but for a cap made of sheepskin, the mans reddish hair peeping out from under it.
He had a beard and was ondamaged exept for his throught that was probably cut. It was most likely a body from the ironage but it is unknown what happed to the body. Most likely it was reburried in one of the local graveyards as was usually done.

In 1797 in southwest Jutland a similar body was found along with two mantles, the one on the bottom with the hairs on the inside, the one on the top with the hairs pn the outside. The man also bore a shoe. Three hazel branches were found next to the body. This body was also reburried on a local graveyard, branches and all. When in 1886 3 bodies are found in the timespan of one year, objects were send to the national museum before the bodies were reburried.

The more recent finds like the Tollundman were not only preserved but are in far better condition then the Dutch counterparts. One of the reasons for this is that these bodies were found in a time (like the 1950's) when mutch more was known about these bodies and how they can be preserved.

 

The Tollundman

Tollundman

The Tollundman

He was till yesterday in his pitebed zijn turfbed save,
then it extradited him for money.
Was he a rogue, was he a hero or a sacred?
a knotted rope felled the trunk vertebra,
but the rope fell loose after two thousand years,
The neck is now of leather, the cheek became cork.
He lookes suspended but o, how proud!
They hanged him and they cast him in the bog,
The man from Tollund, and we guess who he was:
maybe sacred and hero and rogue.

J.B. Charles, 1957

Translated from Dutch to English by the blue swan.

 

gezicht van de Tollundman

Tollundlus

Tollund man is considered to be the best preserved of all the Europian bogbodies. It was the family Højgaard who found the body in may 1950 while digging peat in the Tollund fen near the town of Silkeborg.

Research showed that the body is 2300-2400 old.
He most have died around 350 B.C. during the Iron Age. He was between 20 an 40 years old. He was hanged or strangled with a leather rope. It is stange that the rope around his neck left no marks on his skin and his hyoid has not been broken.

tollundhoofdzijde

The man had a ring in his nose, a sign that he was a sacrifice to the gods? He was buried in the bog lying on his side, his legs pulled up.

The man was dressed only in a cap and belt. His intestines containt the remains of his last meal, a kind of soup made of barley and many differnet kinds of seeds, some from rare plants. Was this because of the special occasion of sacrifice?

Unfortunately after the find it was decided not to preserve the whole body, only the head is authentic, the rest of the body is a replica.
The Tollund man can be found in the Museum Silkeborg.

Video (Danish) about Tollund man

Elling woman

Ellinge vrouw

 

Elling woman was found in 1938 west of Silkeborg.
Twelve years later, only 80 metres removed Tollund man was found.
The finder Jens Zakariasson first thought he had found the remains of a drowned animal.

Like Tollund Man, Elling woman was probably hanged, sometime around the year 280 B.C. so she lived in the sime timeperiod as Tollund manthe Iron Age. They may well have known one another in life!

In Glob's book she is called a man, she is most likely female, aspecially necause of her hairstyle. She had her 90 centimetre long hair in a complicated braid that was knotted behind the neck.
At the young age of about 25 uears she already suffered from osteoporosis.
Enveloped in a sheepskin cape and a cowskin mantle knotted around her legs, her body was placed in the bog.

This body is also on display in the Museum Silkeborg, along with the body of Tollund man.

Ellinge vrouw kapsel

her hairstyle

Ellinge vrouw

Ellinge vrouw lus

Short video (Danish) about Elling woman

Grauballe man

 

In 1952 near Grauballe the body of a man was found.
Atfirst people thought he was a drunken peatdigger who had drowned in the bog in 1887. We now know that Grauballe man died between the year 1540 and 1740. This makes him one of the youngest bogbodies.

De man van Grauballe

De man van Grauballe, voeten

De man van Grauballe, vindplaats

After the body had been taken out of the bog, it was preserved. It was put in a solution of oak bark and left there to be tanned over a period of 18 months. The Grauballe man has been preserved really well including most of his internal organs.
It was even possible to examine his fingerprints.
He died a violent death as the many injuries to his body show like his broken left leg and his throught that had been cut. He must have been about 30 to 40 years old when he died. Thecontents of his stomach was investigated, his last meal was a kind of vegetablesoup with barley and a type of muesli made from seeds from ore then 60 different kinds of plants.

The Grauballe man is on displayat the Moesgård Museum in Arhus.

 

Bredmose/Arden girl

 

This bogbodies should be well known among sprangfanatics but oddly isn't. We know her cap, not the body. 'The Bredmose cap' as it is usually called. (Bredmose is found in Storarden, south Himmerland). Another cap was found near Borkum Eshoj, also in Denmark. Both caps were dated around 1400 B.C. the Bronze Age.

In his book on bogbodies Glob calls her the Arden girl, not Bredmose girl! (p 73-76) She was found in june 1949 by peatdiggers working in the Bredveen.
They later said they had found the folded body in the bog. After the discovery of the body it took some time before experts were brought in, she the first brought to a shed.
Later examinations in the Nationaal Museum showed that she had lain on her right side with her legs pulled up against her body and her hands on her shoulders. The first picture shows the back of the girls head. She bore her dark blond hair in braids that had been rolled up. She wore the sprangcap over her braided hair. If you want to know more about sprangcaps, you can always check out Blue's sprangwork. She made several caps and you can read about that on the sprangcappage.

muts van Bredmose

hoofd van Arden

Some remnants of her cloths have also been found like pieces of a woolen garment, a finer woven long garment and pieces of a kerchief or shawl. Maybe she was burried fully dressed but it is also possible she was naked with the clothes lying under and on top of her body. She was about 20 to 25 years old when she died but it is not clear how she died.

The body is kept at the National museet in Kopenhagen.

Huldremose woman

Huldremose woman (also known as the Huldre Fen woman) was found in 1879 in the Huldre Fen near Ramten in Djursland by a peatdigger.
This woman probably died in the second century B.C. during the Iron Age.
Most bogbodies have been found naked or only partly dressed, but this woman was fully dressed. She was wearing a checkeredwoolen skirt, a checkered woolen shawl and two animalskin capes. The skirt was fastened with a thin laether band.
The shawl was wrapped around her neck and fastened with a piece of birdbone.
Her outer cape was made of dark sheepskins with a collar of light coloured sheepskin.
Als is the case with many capes found, this cape had the hairs of the skin on the outside, while the secend cape worn underneath the first had the hairs turned to the inside. This second cape was made of 11 small dark lambskins and had been repaired 22 times! Under one of these repairs a piece of bladder was found, hidden inside the cape. Inside were a beautifull bone comb, a leather string an a small hairband.

De vrouw van Huldremose

Apart from her skin, hair and clothes her stomach and it's contents were also preserved. Her last meal consisted of roughly grinded rye mixed with seeds from the spurrey plant. Some animal hairs and remnants of animal tissue were found.
So she probably eat some meat as well.
The woman's arm was cut off but we don't know if this happed after her death or before her death causing her to bleed to death. Her right leg had ones been broken but had healed again. Her hair was fastened with a woolen rope that had been wrapped around her head several times. Still there are no clear signs of strangulation. So we don't know exactly how she died. She was older then 40 when she died, what must have been a considerable age for an ironage woman. Margaretha Hald made a beautiful reconstuction of the woman's clothes.

reconstuctie kleding

Reconstuction of the clothes, on the left the clothes found with Huldremose woman, on the right a dress found later, very near the first location.

 

benen kam

Huldremose woman's bone comb.

benen kam

The second dress.

The body is exhibited in the National museet in Kopenhagen.

 

Video on the Huldremose woman from the Nationaal museet.

Video on the Huldremose woman

 

Borremose man

Borremose man was found in 1946 and was the first of three bodies found in this bog.
A local newsreport said that it had been found on a sundaymorning and that people initially thought it was a recent murdervictim. Investigation by the National Museum in Kopenhagen revealed that the man was only 1,55 meters tall and had been burried in the bog in a sitting position, the legs bent. The weight of the bog had compressed the body.

He lived approximately 600 years B.C..
His body was well preserved and showed a lot of damage. The man had been hung (the rope was still around his neck) his skull was crushed and his right femur was broken. This man was also naked but two mantles had been placed at his feet.

The body is kept at the National museet in Kopenhagen, but is not on display.

De man van Borremose

De man van Borremose

A year later another male body was found near Borremose. After the exhumation they found that the man had been lying on a layer of birch bark flakes. In the serounding bog they found a lot of heather. They also found four branches that had been placed over the middle of the body, maybe to keep it in place. Besides these branches a part of an upperarm an part of a baby were found. We are still searching images of this second Borremoseman.

 

Borremose woman

 

The Borremose woman was found in 1948 and was the third bogbody found in the Borrefen in a three year period.

Glob wrote about her "The woman was laying face down and was covered by a large woolen blanket, that by means of a leather strap could be worn as a skirt. Her head lay towards the east with her right arm bent against her face. The left arm was lyingunderneath the left leg that was lying bent upwards underneath her body. Just like the Borremose man she had been roughly treated befor being placed in the bog.
The back of her head had been scalped and her face crushed."

De vrouw van Borremose, voorzijde

 

De vrouw van Borremose, rugzijde

Later scientific studies have found that the damage to her face was caused after death.
A pollen analysis suggests that she died in the autumn. She lived around 500 years B.C. during the Iron Age.

The body is kept at the National museet in Kopenhagen, but is not on display.

Haraldskær woman

 

Haraldskær woman was found by peatdiggers in the bog near Jutland in 1835 on the Haraldskær estate. It is one of the first bogbodies ever examined by archaeologists. Not only was the skeleton of this body preserved but also the skin and internal organs.

According to the Komsvikingsage the Norwegian Queen Gunnhild was killed by order of the Danish King Halard Bluefoot by drowning her in the bog. This supposedly happened 1000 years ago. People soon thought that this body had to be the body of Queen Gunnhild. That is why sometimes this body is called Gunnelsmose woman. King Frederick VI of Denmark had an ornate sarcophagus made fot her. Because of all this the body was treated very carefully and is still in a very good condition today. By means of the C-14 method it was determined in 1977 that she must have died around 490 B.C. This means that she lived in the Iron Age and can not possibly be Queen Gunnhild.

She was found naked with her clothes lying on top of her body. They were a leather cape and three woolen garments. The body had been pinned down in the bog with branches. She was about 40 years old when she died and in good health.
Although she is now only 1,33 metre tall, she was approximately 1,50 metre in life.
In 2000 new research showed that the contents of her stomach consisted of unpeeled millet and blackberries. This means that she to died in the aurumn. She was probably hung and placed in the bog as a sacrifice.

 

De vrouw van Haraldskær

Haraldskær woman's body is on display in the holy
Saint Nicolai church in Veile.

Porsmose skull

De schedel van Porsmose

This very old skull is on display in the National museet in Kopenhagen.

 

In Porsmose near Næstved the remains were found of a 35 to 40 year old man that had clearly been killed by arrows. When the skeleton was found in 1946 a 10 centimetre long bone arrowhead was still firmlu stuck in his skulll.
A second arrowhead was imbedded deep in his sternum.
Both arrows were probably fired from abofe and from a short range. Maybe this was an execution or was the man the victim of a violent robbery? After this death his body was placed in the bog, in what was most likely a small lake.
The arrows are made by people belonging to a culture we now call the single grave culture. Previously this culture from the late new stone-age was named the pedestal beaker culture. These people lived the North of the Netherlands and Northwest Germany between 2800 and 2400 B.C.

pijlkpunt in het borstbeen van Porsmose

The second arrowhead imbedded in the sternum

 

Koelbjerg woman

For as far as I know the Koelbjerg woman is the oldest bogbody ever found.
She must have died about 8000 years B.C. Her remains do not show any injuries or other damage so we have no idea what caused her death.
She may very well have drowned in the bog.
She must have been quite youngh when she died, 25 years >at most.

The body of Koelbjerg woman is kept at the
Fyns Stiftsmuseum of Denmark in Odense.

De vrouw van Koelbjerg

Roum head

Het hoofd van Roum

It is not always a complete body that is found. In Denmark several heads have been found, like the head of the decapitated girl of Roum. Her head was found wrapped in a sheepskin by peatdiggers in 1942 in the Roumveen in Himmerland.
She still had all her teeth and they show she suffered from serious inflammation.
In the past pieces of clothing and different objects had been found on the same location.
Most likely it was a place of sacrifice during the Iron Age. We therefor assume that the girl weas decapitated during the Iron Age as a sacrifice to the gods.

We think it is the head af a female because this person was approximately 20 years old but had no beard growth. She is not often mentioned in the book but she is described in Glob's book (p 90-92).

I do not know where the skull is kept.

Stidsholt head

A lot longer ago, in 1859 another head from a decapitated female was discovered in the Stidsholt Fen in Vendysse.
This head is also discribed by Glob namely as the head of a young woman of short stature. She had about 50 centimetre long hair tied in a bon that had been fastened with a small woven ribbon, that unfortunatly was only partially preserved.
When the head was severed a piece of skin from her chin was ripped off; a case execution but wether it is a sacrifice or punishment for a crime, we do not know.
We assume that this person lived during the Iron Age but we can not be sure of this.

The head is on display at the National museet in Kopenhagen.

 

hoofd van Stidsholt

Sigersdal bodies

In 1949 in Sigersdal Mose near Veksø on Sealand Denmark, two skeletons were found.
I only have this one picture, showing the skull of one of the bodies.
The skull on the photograph was badly damaged during the excavation, as the gaping hole on the left side of the skull shows.

hoofd van Stidsholt

 

hoofd van Stidsholt

We don't know if these bodies were male or female but I assume they are male...
You can still see the rope used to kill him, its is wrapped tightly around his neck.
This person was approximately 18 to 20 years old when he died which must have been between 3650 and 3140 B.C. during the Bronze Age

The remains are kept at the National museet in Kopenhagen.

 

Gadevang Man

Gadevang Man was discovered in 1940, during peat cutting in a bog on Sealand in Denmark. Gadevang Man was about 35 to 50 years old when he died so he lived between 480 and 60 B.C. in the Ironage. At the front and leftside of his skull is an almost circular hole, a little over an inche in diameter. A sign of surgery or someting else? What ever the cause, Gadevang Man survived this trauma, there is a little bit of new bone that you can see in the picture at the top left side of the hole. This bonegrowth meens the wound was healing.

The skeleton of the Gadevang Man is kept at the National museet in Kopenhagen.

 

hoofd van Stidsholt

Sorø Man

 

Two skeletons were found in a bog near Sorø on Sealand, Denmark in 1942. Both skulls had holes in the skulls, a sign of surgery or someting else?

On the picture you can see one of the skulls, it has a hole in the middle with a diameter of 1.5 centimetres. Next to the hole is a depression, perhaps he got hit on the head with an axe? Maybe they tried to remove a blood clot or maybe it had a more ritual meaning. Here there are also some signs that the wound was healing. There is a second hole, much smaller (less then a centimetre) and at the back of the skull.

hoofd van Stidsholt

 

hoofd van Stidsholt

The second picture shows the two upper arm bones of the second skeleton, they are deformed.
The bone of the left arm has a twisted shaft and is much shorter then the right arm. It also has a irregular surface. Both men died around 3500 B.C. during the late Stone Age

The remains are kept at the National museet in Kopenhagen.

Bocksten man

Man van Bocksten

His woolen tunic is one of the best preserved medieval tunics of Europe.
He wore a hoop with a 90 centimetre tail, a garment that in the 14th century was mostly worn by wealthy men. He also wore a kind of shirt, a mantle,hosiery and leather shoes.
He had a bag made of textile with him, 2 knifes and a leather sheath of 4 by 6 centimetres that was decorated with the Andreascross and the cross of Saint George. The inside of the sheath was decorated with a similair patern.
The kind of hood the man wore was sometime worn by people who worked within the chuch. Together with the crosses, the symbols inside the sheath, this is reason for some to belief that the man must have been a member of the order of Sancti Spiritus.
There is another hypothesis that the man was Simon Gudmundi, the dean of the Diocese of Linköping who died May 12 1491.
Owe Wennerholm reasoned in his book Who was the Bocksten Man?, that Gudmundi's name fit with what might be initials found on what might be a micro shield. It is also likely that Gudmundi visited the area bocause he tried to get Catherine of Sweden canonized. One of her miracles had taken place in a neighboring village. There were speculation that he was killed by order of Hemming Gadh who wanted to become the new dean.

The body is on display at the County Museum of Halland.

 

In other Scandinavian countries bogbodies have also been found, like Bocksten man from West Sweden. Bocksten man is a 14th century male bogbody found near Varberg, not far from an important Medieval road: the Via Regia.
The body was found on june 22th 1936 by the 11 year old Thure G. Johansson while working in the bog. His father contacted the police.
They soon discovered that this was a very old body. The curator of the local museum, Albert Sandklef along with some others investigated and photographed the site only 2 days after the body had been found.
The man had been placed at the bottom of a small fen.
He was pinned down with an oakbranch through the heart and a berchbranch through the spine. A harrow had severly damaged the upperbody.
Late 19th century near the location where the man was found, there was a farm named Bocksten, where peat was excavated. The man was named after this farm.
The man was 1.70 to 1.80 centimetres tall and of slender build. The skeleton, hair, stomach liver, brains and parts of the lungs were preserved. The man had a wound on the right side of his skull. The teeth look like those of a man of 25 to 35 years old but other tests suggest he was older then that when he died.

Man van Bocksten vindplaats

The site where Bocksten Man was found

Resources and links

 

Musea:

Museum Silkeborg

National museet in Kopenhagen

Fyns Stiftsmuseum of Denmark, Odense

Moesgård Museum

 

Sites

Several videos on Danish bogbodies

Bodies of the bog, an introduction

Mummy tombs

Map with locations of finds

American bogbodies

Swedish bog man murdered - 700 years ago (Bocksten man)

Photographs from P. V. Glob's "The Bog People"

Bogbodies on wikipedia

 

Books

Mummies uit het veen, P.V. Glob

Vereeuwigd in het veen, Wijnand van der Sanden

Mens en moeras, Wijnand van der Sanden, Drents Museum

Treasures from the bog, Drents Museum

 

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