Bog Bodies @ Mummy Tombs




Two Bog Bodies (Dublin, Ireland)


Clonycavan Man

One of the most recent Irish bog discoveries was unearthed in February 2003. Peat cutters near Clonycavan, County Meath (near Dublin) discovered a well-preserved and quite horrific partial upper body (lacking forearms and hands as well as the lower abdomen) that has come to be called Clonycavan Man.

Police investigators originally thought that the man had been murdered, and his body recently buried in the bog, by members of the Irish Republican Army. Pathologists and archaeologists, however, realized that the body was much older than that. In fact, later tests revealed that the man died between 392 BC and 201 BC.

His death was particularly grisly. He had been hit on the head three times, perhaps with an axe, so hard that it was split open, revealing his brains. He had also been hit in the chest, and he was disemboweled as well. (Note that one of the Weerdinge Men had been also disemboweled.) 

What fascinated scientists, however, was his hair. Swooped high on his head, perhaps to make up for his short stature (scientists estimated that he was 5 feet two inches tall), his hair contained gel (vegetable oil mixed with resin) imported from an area of near the border of Spain and France. His face was reconstructed by scientists from the University of Dundee.




Gallagh Man

Gallagh Man, who died between 400 -200 BC, was discovered  by Irish peat cutters in a bog near Castleblakeney, County Galway in 1821. 

His body, covered with a deerskin cape, was lying on its left side some nine feet below the surface. The cape was fastened at the neck by a band of willow rods, which may have been used to strangle him.  During his burial in the bog, he was pegged to the peat by two wooden stakes on either side. After discovery, his body was reburied, then unearthed repeatedly to show interested parties.

Eventually, according to R. C. Turner, the body was sent to the Royal Dublin Society and then to the Royal Irish Academy where the body was displayed. Gallagh Man, then, became the the first complete bog body ever to be exhibited.

Although he was in "exceptional condition" when he was found, experts at the time decided to let the body dry in order to preserve it. Unfortunately, the body became distorted as it dried and his beard and hair disintegrated. Only a few small pieces of the cape still exist. Today, a similar bog body would not be allowed to dry.


Where to see them

The bodies of Clonycavan Man and Gallagh Man are on display at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, along with the body of Oldcroghan Man.