An incredible photo guide to Ireland’s ancient bog bodies
From cloaks to evidence of crude hair gel, ancient bodies yield clues to our shared past
Ireland’s peat bogs have yielded amazing artifacts over the years – ancient weapons, tools, animals and the occasional leather-covered boat. But the most fascinating discoveries have been human bodies. These have ranged from skeletal remains to intact, clothed bodies.
The bodies of our ancient ancestors have given archeologists tantalizing clues about what life was like in Ireland thousands of years ago. Some suffered violent deaths; others were exceptionally tall, or showed no signs of physical labor. One may have drowned. However they died, their bodies remain to give scientists a glimpse into our shared past.
1. Ballgudden Woman
Northern Ireland, Carbon date: --, female, discovered 1831
Examination showed that Ballgudden Woman had blond hair when she was alive. Near her body, an infant of an undetermined gender was found. The remains of the baby were completely skeletonized. Both of these bog bodies no longer remain.
2. Ballygroll Child
Northern Ireland, Carbon date: --, sex undetermined; discovered 1835
The child was discovered completely inside of a coffin, which is very uncommon for bog bodies. However, the body was either reburied, over sampled, or destroyed.
3. Baronstown West Man
Baronstown West Man. Source: Google Images
County Kildare, Carbon date: 242–388 CE, male, discovered 1953
This bog body is currently on display at the National Museum of Ireland. Hazel or birch branches were found with the body. A textile and leather cloak were found on the body.
4. Camnish Woman
Northern Ireland, Carbon date: --, female, discovered 1834
This bog body no longer remains.
5. Cashel Man / Portlaoise body
Cashel Man. Source: Google Images
County Laois, Carbon date: Around 2000 BCE; male, discovered 2012
The legs were found to be protruding from the skin of the corpse, as well as being exceptionally preserved. The remaining part of the body inside of the bag-like skin was not as well preserved. The body was in a crouched position, which may suggest that it dates from the Bronze Age. The body was later moved to the National Museum of Ireland for examination. The man had a broken arm, along with having his back broken in two places and cut. This bog body has now been dated to around 2000 BCE.
6. Clonycavan Man
Clonycavan Man. Source: Google Images
County Meath, Carbon date: 392-201 BCE, male, discovered 2003
Clonycavan Man was discovered three months before Old Croghan Man and was found in the same bog. Nothing remains below the waist of the man – this was either due to the turf cutting machine or perhaps a physical attack in which he had been brutally murdered. The body is famous for having a primitive form of gel found in his hair, which may have been imported from western Europe.
7. Clonshannagh Woman
County Dublin, Carbon date: 645–680 CE, female, discovered 2005
This bog body was found to be completely skeletonized. The body and its clothing had been partally dismembered by the peat cutting tools that had unearthed it.
8. Derrycashel Woman
County Roscommon, Carbon date: 1431–1291 BCE, female, discovered 2005
The nearly skeletonized and complete remains of a young woman were unearthed. It is believed that the cause of her death was not ritual sacrifice and that she was buried formally.
9. Derrymaquirk Woman
County Roscommon, Carbon date: 750-200 BCE, female, discovered 1959
The skeletonized woman was found lying on her back with bone fragments from an infant near her body. Examination showed that the age of the woman at the time of death was approximately 25. Pieces of wood and animal bones were also found in the grave. It is thought that she had not been sacrificed but buried formally.
10. Derryvarroge Man
County Kildare, Carbon date: 228–343 CE, male, discovered 2006
The only parts of the man that remain preserved were the buttocks and leg of the body.
11. Drumkeeragh body
County Down, Carbon date: --, Presumed female, discovered 1780
The remains, consisting of a skeleton, clothing, and some hair, was found by near Drumkeeragh Mountain by surveyors. A braided lock of hair from the body was given to Elizabeth Rawdon (or Lady Moira) in 1781, who soon found interest in the body and eventually published an article about the find in the Journal of Archaeologia. To this day, only the lock of hair and some cloth fragments remain.
12. Galagh Man
County Galway, Carbon date: 400–200 BCE, male, disovered 1821
The Galagh Man was discovered lying on his side nine feet below the surface of an Irish bog in 1821. A willow rod was found wrapped around his neck which was most likely used to strangle him. A cape was found around one of his lower legs. The body was pinned to the bottom of the bog by two wooden pegs likely to keep it from surfacing. Analysis concluded that he was a young man at the approximate age of 25. The body is on display in the National Museum of Ireland
13. Kinakinelly Man
County Galway, Carbon date: 200-100 BCE
The man was found buried with bones of red deer.
14. Meenybradden Woman
County Donegal, Carbon date: 1050–1410 CE, female, 1978
The woman was believed to be around 25–30 years old at her time of death. The Meenybradden woman's cloak has brought in a bit of controversy. The body was found to be around 500 years older than the cloak that her remains were wrapped in. Her body was buried about one meter deep into the bog. She was examined by Dr. John Harbison. Her cloak has been dated by textile typology to 16th–17th century, a 14C-dating has not yet been performed on the garment.
15. Mulkeeragh Man
County Cork, Carbon date: --, male, discovered 1753
This bog body was found wearing a military uniform and a cloak. The body was later reburied.
16. Old Croghan Man
Old Crogham Man. Source: Google Images
County Offaly, Carbon date: 362–175 BCE, male, discovered 2003
The Old Croughan Man was found in the same year as Clonycavan Man. Only the torso was discovered, lacking a head and abdomen. He was believed to have been 6'6'' tall, and to have been a wealthy individual, since his hands lacked evidence of any hard labour. Examination revealed that both Old Croughan Man and Clonycavan Man were in their twenties when they were killed.
17. Stoneyisland Man
Stoneyisland Man. Source: Wikipedia
County Galway, Carbon date: 3320–3220 BCE, male, discovered 1929
The skeletonized body was found by peat diggers and was originally believed to be the remains of a missing man. After examination the body was found to be over 5,000 years older. The cause of the man's death was probably drowning. He is known to be Ireland's oldest bog body.
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