The Astonishingly Violent Backstories Of 12 Bog Bodies Preserved For Centuries

The ancient Egyptians practiced mummification to preserve the bodies of their dead so they would remain intact for the afterlife. Today, we embalm our dead so that grieving loved ones can gain closure. In stark contrast to the respectful nature of these rituals, preserved human remains in bogs appear to be the result of violent and unnatural deaths.

Depending on the water's natural chemical makeup, the human bodies found in bogs range from skeletons to corpses complete with intact internal organs, skin, facial expressions, nails, stomach contents, and bits of clothing. This has allowed scientists to uncover facts about bog bodies that were stabbed, decapitated, hanged, strangled, and otherwise maliciously created since the Mesolithic and Bronze Ages.

  • Tollund Man Was Hung As Part Of A Ritual

    Tollund Man was found in Denmark in 1950 by two brothers. Initially mistaken for a fresh corpse, radiocarbon data performed on the body revealed he had actually died between 375 - 210 BCE.

    His body long gone and a replica in its place, Tollund Man's head remains on display in Denmark's Silkeborg Museum. The peat bog preservation of his body allowed radiographic scans to determine his tongue was protruded, likely from being hanged by the rope still around his neck. Since cremation was common during Tollund Man's life, experts theorize he was hanged before being placed into the peat bog. His sacrifice was likely for a bountiful harvest or to provide a servant to one of the gods worshipped by the villagers. 

  • The Grauballe Man's Throat Was Sliced From Ear To Ear

    Believed to have died between 290 BCE - 310 CE, this corpse was found in a bog near Grauballe village in Denmark in 1952. Known as the Grauballe Man, the body is on display in Moesgaard Museum where visitors can see the egregious throat wound that killed him.

    His throat slit from ear to ear, the Grauballe Man was likely a ritual sacrifice made to appease deities worshipped by the people of his village. The 30-year-old suffered a severed trachea and esophagus before being interred in the depths of the bog that would mummify him.

  • Dätgen Man Was Killed And Then Beheaded To Stave Off Zombification

    In 1959 Dätgen, Germany, a body was found with its head removed and placed several feet away. The Dätgen Man, who died around 300 BCE, differs from other bog bodies in that it appears that whomever killed him was concerned the corpse would reanimate and become a zombie that may seek vengeance. 

    The body was found to have been stabbed, beaten, and, of course, decapitated before being placed in the bog. The body was then held in place by a stake through it and into the floor of the bog, further indicating that it was thought he might attempt to rise from the depths after death. This type of burial was somewhat common in 13th-century Europe, as some feared people would come back as vampires.

  • Lindow Man Was Ritualistically Brutalized To Death

    Lindow Man, AKA 'Pete Marsh' is the best preserved corpse of many, despite having no pelvis or legs. He was found in the Lindow Moss bog of Chesire, England in August 1984. Since the bog was able to keep so much of what remained of his body intact, it is known that the Lindow Man ate unleavened bread before his death somewhere between 2 BCE. and 119 CE. 

    His death involved being struck repeatedly about the head and shoulders, strangulation, being forced to consume mistletoe, and then being drowned in the peat bog that would become his final resting place. 

  • A Body In Bourtanger Moor Had His Entrails "Read"

    A Body In Bourtanger Moor Had His Entrails "Read"
    Photo: Drents Museum / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    The bodies of two men that had died between 160 BCE and 220 CE were found in the Netherlands in 1904. The pair are referred to as the Weerdinge Men and were initially thought to be a man and a woman since one corpse is lain across the outstretched arm of the other.

    The corpse with the outstretched arm was disemboweled, and his intestines were preserved on the outside of his body. Some experts believe the intestines were removed and read by a haruspex, an individual trained in divining information by looking at the entrails of animals.

  • Old Croghan Man Suffered Stab Wounds, Disembowelment, And Beheading

    Discovered in Ireland in 2003, Old Croghan Man is though to be the headless torso of of a king, as evidenced by hands that appeared free of the scars of labor, an elaborate arm band, and a diet that consisted of meat. He also had his nipples removed, just like his bog-mate Clonycavan Man. 

    Experts think the pair were kings who had failed their people or men who failed to become king. Either way, the failure meant that Oldcroghan Man was stabbed in the chest, garnering a defensive wound on his arm, and then disemboweled before being decapitated and thrown into the bog.