The bog body phenomenon

Although Grauballe Man is a unique find in many ways, he is not the only prehistoric person who was found buried in a bog. Many such bodies were discovered in bogs across north-western Europe.

Prehistoric bog bodies in north-western Europe

Although most bog bodies are found in Denmark, they are also found in other countries, including Ireland, England, the Netherlands and Germany. So many of these bog people are known that we can speak of a ‘bog body phenomenon’. This can be defined as the occurrence of often well-preserved remains of prehistoric people (dating to the Late Bronze and Iron Age) who were killed before being deposited in one of the many bogs across north-western Europe. These bog bodies are not just men like Grauballe Man, but also women and children. Sometimes they are found alone and naked, just like Grauballe Man, but in other cases two or more bodies are found together. Some of them are associated with clothes or objects.

People from the past

Bog bodies have fascinated both scholars and the public alike, mostly due to their exceptional preservation, which brings us face to face with past people, something that is very rare in prehistoric archaeology. The presence of an entire body with soft tissues in addition to skeletal remains gives us a very detailed insight into the appearance, health, lives and deaths of these prehistoric people. Yet a major question remains: why were selected people violently killed and placed in bogs, rather than buried on dry land?