|16 August 2011
Prehistoric body discovered in Irish bog
Iron Age human remains have been discovered in a County Laois (Ireland) bog. The remains, understood to be those of a young woman, were found by an employee of Bord Na Móna - the company is responsible for the mechanised harvesting of peat - who was operating a milling machine in the Cul na Móna bog between Abbeyleix and Portlaoise.
This particular bog has been become somewhat of a hotspot of rare discoveries in recent years. Bog butter, leather shoes and axe heads dating back thousands of years have been found deep down in the bog.
Initial examinations of the prehistoric remains suggest the victim may have been a human sacrifice between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago. Archaeologists reckon the body is a victim of a ritual sacrifice after the remains were found in a leather bag. The National Museum of Ireland said the victim's legs were well preserved but that the torso and head appeared to have been lost. The remains will be taken to the National Museum in Dublin for analysis and radio carbon dating.
There have been over 100 bog bodies found in Ireland, but many were not well preserved. According to Irish Peatland Conservation Council: "For thousands of years the bogs, through their extraordinary preservative qualities have kept ancient remains intact that would have otherwise perished on dry land; such as the bodies of unwary travellers trapped in the bog, or prehistoric track ways; and sometimes even whole villages and farms."
Bogs can be treacherous places and it is likely that some of the bodies found in the peat were those of travellers who slipped into bog pools and were trapped. Some ancient bodies found in the peat were supposedly found clutching heather or sticks as if attempting to haul themselves out. Other bodies found in bogs are deliberate burials.
Edited from RTE News, BBC News (12 August 2011), Irish Weather Online (14 August 2011)
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