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19 May 2003
Decapitated bog-body believed to be centuries old

A decapitated body has been discovered in a bog in County Offaly (Republic of Ireland) by a farmer while digging a drain near his home. The body is remarkably well preserved due to the acidic water and lack of oxygen found in a bog, which can retard decomposition and in this case have allowed the skin of the upper torso and the fingernails to remain intact, along with clothes and a bracelet on the upper arm. Initially the scene was treated as a potential murder site, but Depute State Pathologist Marie Cassidy has declared the body to be hundreds of years old.
     Archaeologists from the Heritage Service and the National Museum visited the site at Croghan Hill near Daigean and later the body was transported to the museum. Raghnall O’Floinn, head of collections at the National Museum, said “No age has been confirmed for the body but it could be anywhere between 500–2000 years old.”
     Headless bog-bodies, which have been discovered throughout Ireland and Scandinavia, are not an uncommon find, as it is believed that they are the remains of executed prisoners-of-war or criminals. If older, they could have been human sacrifices, as skull collecting was a practice common to both Vikings and Celts.

Sources: UTV News (15 May 2003), Irish Examiner (16 May 2003)

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