The bog as a landscape archive

Bogs not only preserve archaeological materials and human and animal bodies placed there by people. Their exceptional preservative qualities also provide a very detailed insight into the development of the landscape over thousands of years.

A layer cake of landscape history

Pollen, seeds, other plant remains, insect and other animal remains from various periods are preserved in their millions, layer upon layer deposited through time. By studying a section through a bog, and meticulously recording and analysing these plant and animal remains, scientists can reconstruct past landscapes and track the changing vegetation through time. In this way we gain a detailed insight into how landscapes changed through time, both as a result of climate change and because of people’s impact upon it. It is through bog sequences that we know that the time in which Grauballe Man lived was characterised by a marked climate change with wetter and colder conditions than before. Similarly, bog sequences demonstrate that a more open landscape was created at the time as people cut down trees for timber, fuel and to create more space for arable fields.