Bog Bodies Rediscovered

True tales from the peat marshes of northern Europe.

Aside from a bit of periodontal disease, he was a healthy man in his 30s, about 5’7″ tall, with a strong build. He had recently eaten porridge made from barley, grass, wheat, and herbs, and maybe a few bites of pork. But the meal was his last. Between 12 and 24 hours after dinner, he was strangled. His throat was slashed from ear to ear, and his body was thrown into a Danish peat bog. He lay in this grave until 1952, when residents of the nearby village of Grauballe were cutting peat for fuel and found his remains. He still had his skin and a full head of hair. Soon he became known as Grauballe Man and although it looks like he died recently, he lived almost 2,300 years ago.

Thirty-two years later in a bog called Lindow Moss in northwest England, peat cutters saw what they thought was a piece of wood that might jam the shredding machinery. But when they removed it and the peat coating fell off, it turned out to be a human foot. Police were already investigating the area as a possible crime scene because a year earlier a human head, thought to have belonged to a woman who had disappeared under suspicious circumstances in 1960, had turned up at the site. The woman’s husband quickly confessed to her murder, despite the fact that the skull was eventually found to belong to a man who lived more than 2,000 years ago. County archaeologist Rick Turner negotiated with the police and took the peat where the foot had been found to a local lab. Soon the head, arms, and torso of “Lindow Man” emerged.


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