Iron Age people - Appearance

We know a little bit about Iron Age people’s clothing and appearance from well-preserved finds from bogs and Iron Age graves. as well as the preservation of skin and hair in bog bodies.

Iron Age fashion

Some bog bodies were put into their watery graves with items of clothing and the remains of clothing is sometimes discovered in Iron Age graves. Many of the items of female clothing that have been found, including dresses, skirts and blouses, were made of wool, which was sometimes died in bright colours. In this way patterns could be woven into the clothes, like the skirt worn by a women found in the Huldremose bog. She also wore a sheepskin cape. A young girl in an Iron Age grave on Loenne Heath wore a blue blouse and skirt with intricate patterns in its borders. Tollund Man, another Iron Age bog body found not far from Grauballe Man in a bog near Bjælkovsdal, wore a sheepskin cap and a leather belt, and a bog body in Soegaard bog near Skive was dressed in a short skin cape and woollen legwarmers.

Beards, knots and braids - Iron Age hairdos

Bog bodies like Grauballe Man, Tollund Man and Elling Woman also provide insight into other aspects of appearance, including hair styles. Both Grauballe Man and Tollund Man had short hair and a stubble beard, suggesting they shaved regularly. Others, like Lindow Man II in England, had a beautifully trimmed, full beard. In Germany some male bog bodies with longer hair were found who wore their hair in a fashionable ‘Swabian knot’ on the side of the head. Elling Woman, found in the same bog as Tollund Man, wore her long hair in a very elaborate braid. Another interesting find is Clonycavan Man, an Iron Age bog body from Ireland, who seems to have used a ‘hair gel’ made of plant oil and pine resin to create a raised hairstyle. It seems that fashion and personal taste and preferences were as important to Iron Age people as they are today.