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.
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.