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Elling Woman

Grauballe Man

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 On the Web
Internet The Tollund Man and Elling Woman
Article on the website for Silkeborg Museum

Internet Bodies of the Bogs
English website about bog bodies, including the Tollund Man

Internet Reluctant Time Travelers: The Bog Bodies of Europe
English website about bog bodies

Internet The Bog Page
English personal website about bog bodies

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More Bog Bodies

Borremose Man from 1946
Borremose Man from 1946
Big picture

In Borremose in Himmerland other bog bodies have been discovered. In 1946 a man strangled with a piece of string was discovered. Next to the body were two cloaks made of skin and using the same stitching technique as had been used for Elling Woman's cloak. On top of the cloaks was a birch branch. Around the body's neck was a rope made of raffia which was made of three thinner strings twisted together. The rope formed a circle of 36 centimetres but it might have been tightened in order to strangle the man.

However, the cause of death was possibly a heavy blow to the back of the head which shattered it. His right thighbone was broken above the knee, and that makes it easy to draw parallels to the violence Grauballe Man was exposed to. Carbon-14 dating of the man indicates that the time of death was 840 +/-80 B.C., which means the middle/end of late Bronze age. Accordingly, he was placed in the bog before the Tollund Man who is approximately 500 years younger.

The very next year, in 1947, another bog body was discovered in Borremose - yet again the body of a man. After the excavation was over you could see a thin layer of flakes of birch bark which the dead had been resting on. Aside from this a significant amount of the peat that had surrounded the body consisted of bunches of heather. Across the body's middle section were four thick branches of almost the same thickness. Next to the branches were the upper half of an upper arm and the top part of a radius from a baby.

Borremose Woman
Borremose Woman. Big picture

Half of an earthenware vessel was discovered next to the body's knee, and by the neck and chest were an amber bead, a round disc made of bronze (with a diameter of 21 to 22 milimetres) and two pieces of leather string. These objects were possibly part of a necklace. The following examination did not reveal the cause of death. Later on a carbon-14 dating reveals that the time of death was 475 B.C. which is early Iron age.

In 1947 the last bog body was discovered in Borremose. It is also the bog body which underwent the most thorough examination. The body, which turned out to be a woman, was discovered with her face turned downwards. She appears to have been wrapped in a big woolen blanket measuring 175 by 115 centimetres - a row of holes in it along with a leather string makes it very likely that the blanket was actually a kind of skirt.

Apparently the woman had suffered a violent death. A blow to the front of her head had shattered the lower half of her face, her chin and cheeks. Her scalp and her hair had been torn off and most of it had been placed either above or in connection with the remnants of her head. A big piece of the scalp and hair had been placed against the neck and the right hand. This violent treament of the woman led to theories about her having been an unfaithful wife.

But in 1984 after a more thorough examination the forensic examiners were able to conclude that it was impossible to determine if the cause of death was murder, suicide, accident or natural causes. They were also unable to determine if the woman had died before she was placed in the bog. Before reaching this conclusion the forensic examiners had examined the soft parts of the face to determine if any signs of bleeding could be found, as well as if blood had seeped into the wind pipe. The examination showed no signs of her having received the blows while she was still alive.

Queen Gunhild
"Queen Gunhild". Big picture

It seems very brutal that the Tollund Man and Elling Woman were hanged, Grauballe Man had his throat cut, Borremose Man was strangled and Borremose Woman's face was shattered. But the strangest part is that they were treated with such great care after they were killed. The Tollund Man was laid down as if he were asleep, Elling Woman's hips and legs were wrapped in a cloak or a blanket made of cowhide.

In 1835 a bog body was discovered by the estate Haraldskær which was believed to be the body of the Norwegian viking queen Gunhild. According to legend Queen Gunhild wanted to marry Harold Bluetooth but since she had a reputation for being spiteful and skilled in witchcraft, Harold Bluetooth's men killed her before she reached Jelling.

Recent studies have shown that the body was much older than assumed - from approximately 490 B.C. - which rules out the possibility of the body being the Norwegian queen who, after all, lived in the Viking age which was a much later time period. Instead it was an unnamed bog body like all the others.

Lindow Man
Lindow Man. Big picture

Bog bodies have been discovered in Northern Germany, too, including the body of a woman from Windeby. However, new research has revealed that she probably died of natural causes. She was just buried in a place where the bog water resulted in her being preserved till today.

Bog bodies have been discovered in England, too. Including this fairly well-preserved body of a man discovered in Lindow Bog close to Manchester.

This is how he looked after the scientists had completed their examinations of him.

 Related Stories
Elling Woman

Elling Woman
The Tollund Man is not the only bog body that has been discovered in Bjældskovdal...

Grauballe Man
Two years after the Tollund Man had been discovered another body of a man appeared...

This is where some of the most famous bog bodies in Denmark were discovered
This is where some of the most famous bog bodies in Denmark were discovered.
Big picture © Skalk

Windeby Woman, Germany
Windeby Woman, Germany. Big picture

Lindow Man
Lindow Man.Big picture

Lindow Man reconstructed
Scientists were able to reconstruct Lindow Man's face by using special computer techniques. Big picture

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