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We’ve just re-watched a fascinating Documentary called “4,000 Year-old Cold Case: the Body in the Bog”. The program was originally shown in December 2013 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03js0gf) and documents the discovery of Cashel Man. The new Bog Body, originally thought to date to approx. 300 B.C.E. was later discovered to be about 4,000 years old – which makes it the oldest preserved body of its kind in the world!

In typical ‘Bones’ fashion, they brought in a forensic anthropologist as well as a coroner and tried to determine whether the body had died from natural causes or a violent death, which he had. Ned Kelly of the National Museum of Ireland was brought in to help. Ned is a veteran archaeologist, and has previously investigated some of Ireland’s most famous bog bodies. The interesting thing that the program brought out is that there is a significant difference between the way that the Irish Bog Bodies were killed and those found in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe (with the exception of some parts of England).

Bog Body slain with overkill

The Irish bodies seem to have been killed with ‘Overkill’ or a definite, and perhaps ritualised, sequence of death methods used before depositing the body into Sacred Water. Ned theorises that the Bog Bodies are those of Kings who, having been married to the Land, were sacrificed in times of hardship to appease or petition the Land Goddess for renewed fertility. It seems a fair theory to me, although his interpretation of some of the images on the panels of the Gundestrup cauldron I did not find at all convincing!

Although, the Danish and Germanic bodies had also been murdered, the methods used were widely different (apart from identical final meals!), so it begs the question as to whether there is any link between the cultural identities of the peoples committing these murders. More fascinating research on the way I hope!

BBC Documentary Description

“A 4,000-year-old body is found preserved in an Irish peat bog, in Cashel, in Ireland’s midlands. To scientists and historians, it could offer brand new clues to solve an ancient mystery – the hundreds of bodies found mummified in the boglands of northern Europe.

An international team of experts assemble to investigate this new find, led by Ned Kelly of the National Museum of Ireland. Ned is a veteran archaeologist, and has previously investigated some of Ireland’s most famous bog bodies.

Will ‘Cashel Man’ help prove his theory these Irish victims were ancient kings? And what clues can the bog bodies of Europe offer to explain our ancestors’ most macabre tradition, ritual murder?

Meanwhile, that question could be answered by the bog itself. New science has found clues to suggest these deaths may be explained by prehistoric climate change.”

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