Bog bodies are really creepy, definitely leathery, and international celebrities. Some even go on tour. Some are exhibited and others just get geeky scientist types far too over-excited about their stomach contents. But if you’re an average Joe, their twisted, gnarly corpses are the stuff of nightmares. So how are they so well preserved? The unique mix of micro-biotics, acidity and lack of oxygen in the peat bogs are the ideal conditions to store a body. Clothing, skin, hair, nails, teeth, internal organs – it all stays in place. Apparently the process is similar to tanning – which is how they make leather. It makes your cool biker jacket a little less appealing to wear when you think about it…
Plus, these ancient corpses have spent thousands of years at the bottom of a bog after dying brutal deaths. They would probably be more than a little pissed at being dug up, dissected and put on display. This is the quintessential horror movie intro. When ancient bog bodies attack …
Hollywood horror aside, the ancient bog bodies really do draw massive attention around the world. A gruesome glimpse into the past via a perfectly preserved corpse. Check out our list of bog bodies from hell. They’ve all got a dark story to tell…
15. Meet Red Franz On Tour
As ancient bog bodies go, Red Franz is quite a star. Touring for legions of adoring fans – basically ghoulish types who like looking at dead bodies – he travels the world so that people get a good look at his horrifying face. Which, for a 2,000 year old corpse found in a peat bog, is quite an achievement.
His luscious mane of red hair – which got him his nickname – was perfectly preserved by the acidic bog peat he was found in. But despite his girly locks, Franz is one tough son of a gun. He may have died from a slit to the throat at 35, but tests show he survived broken bones and took an arrow to the shoulder before his grisly end.
14. Huldremose Woman Liked To Travel
Before she was strangled to death, had her arm cut off and found herself at the bottom of a peat bog, Huldremose Woman liked to travel. New chemical tests done on her corpse have revealed she travelled a long distance before she died. Now, let’s not get bogged down in the details of how they know this, but basically fibres from her underwear came from Norway or Sweden.
Other chemicals in her tissue samples showed Huldremose Woman had definitely left Denmark before she died. Probably because Amazon didn’t ship internationally 2,300 years ago.
She was also dressed in some pretty sharp garms for that era – some leather capes and brightly dyed clothing all pointed to her being wealthy, if not regal. Which makes you wonder why she was murdered and dumped in a bog …
13. Not All Bog Bodies Are Ancient – But They’re Still Gruesome
Meet Boris Lazarev: A WWII fighter pilot who was found with his plane wreckage in a Russian swamp. And he’s pretty messed up. Boris lost his feet – most likely from the impact of the crash – they were found in the plane’s cockpit. His face is all smashed in – from his head hitting the plane’s instrument panel. But other than that he’s incredibly well preserved.
A cocktail of swamp goo, gasoline and oil from the engines kept him, the plane and his belongings in tip top condition. Found in 1998, Boris was buried with military honours, but parts from his plane can be found at a Moscow military museum.
12. Grauballe Man Had His Throat Cut
There’s a very good reason Grauballe Man isn’t looking too stoked about his situation. Apart from the fact he’s been dug up from his final resting place, this ancient bog dude met a really gruesome end. Grauballe Man had his throat cut from ear to ear. He also had a bunch of broken bones – though that could have been from the weight of the bog pressing down on his body.
He’s so well preserved that even his fingerprints are still intact – though to be honest, if he did commit any crimes on the streets of Denmark in 55BC, it’s too late to book him now. Just like Red Franz, he has an impressive mop of red hair – though it’s the bog that dies the hair this colour.
11. Windeby “Girl” Was Most Likely A Boy
Though this bog body has always been referred to as Windeby Girl, scientists have had a change of heart and are now saying she was most likely a boy. It’s not quite a Caitlyn Jenner scenario here – more a case of mistaken identity. Not that the gender really matters now. What’s most disturbing is the blindfold put on the bog body. We’re assuming there were no adult games afoot and historians think it’s more likely Windeby was a WILLING human sacrifice.
Yep, just when you thought bog bodies were disturbing enough, the ancient civilizations cranked things right up to eleven on this one. The body shows no sign of a struggle and other than malnourishment, it’s not really clear how Windeby died.
10. Lindow Man Is As Flat As A Pancake
While it may look like Lindow Man died by being crushed with a steam roller, his death was much more imaginative. University professor Anthony Jones says this guy was killed by “blows to the head, garrotting, swallowing mistletoe and then drowning in the waters of the peat bog”. What a way to go!
Lindow has been described as Britain’s best bog body – which is quite the accolade. Other body parts have been found in the same bog where Lindow was discovered, but this leathery bog body was the first with a face. He was found by a peat cutter sifting debris from a conveyor belt. He threw what he thought was a piece of wood to the floor and when the peat fell off a human leg appeared. Whether the peat guy’s still in therapy or not is unknown.
9. Bocksten Man Is A 700 Year Old CSI: Bog Mystery
No amount of binging on CSI episodes is going to help solve this sorry state of affairs. Unless there’s a secret CSI: Bog season no-one’s heard of. 700 years ago, Bocksten Man’s body was skewered with poles to keep his corpse at the bottom of a peat bog – meaning someone definitely wanted him to stay dead and, more importantly, undiscovered. He wasn’t found until 1936.
When he surfaced, they found that he had probably been killed by being hit over the head three times with a hammer. But why? Archaeologists have their theories – some say he was a tax collector, reason enough for his demise apparently, others say he was recruiting soldiers. Though without a series of moody shots of the bog, some wildly futuristic forensics and some snarky one-liners, this episode of CSI: Bog will remain unsolved.
8. This Body Of A Toddler Will Haunt Your Nightmares
Thought to be one of the smallest and youngest bog bodies ever found, Röst Girl is a tiny toddler found in Germany. She’s also the most likely to haunt your nightmares. We know very little about her as her remains were lost during the Second World War. Which just has us scared that she’s re-animated and is wandering the streets looking for her next victim. Found under a woolen cloak – which survived the war damage – it seems her burial may differ from the more brutal deaths usually experienced by bog bodies.
Fibres from the cloak have dated Röst Girl somewhere between 200BC and 80AD. Her body is so flat because while the peat bogs preserve skin and hair so well, the bones can turn to liquid over time – leaving just the leathery skin behind. There’s no end to this horror, is there?
7. Tollund Man’s Ancient Corpse Still Has Stubble and Eyelashes
When Tollund Man was found back in the ’50s, he was so well preserved the guys that dug him up thought they’d found a murder victim. Except Tollund Man was over 2,000 years old. Naked apart from a braided noose around his neck and a pointed cap on his head, Tollund Man may well have taken his secrets to his boggy grave.
The theory goes that he may have been a human sacrifice – but it’s all just guess work at this point. You can get up close to Tollund’s fresh-looking face at Denmark’s Silkeborg Museum – if you fancy a macabre moment on a European vacation.
6. Osterby Man Rocked A Serious Old-Timey Man-Bun Before All Y’All
Sure ancient bog bodies are grim, leathery and will haunt your dreams tonight, but they sure knew how to rock an on-trend hairdo. Osterby Man might have lost his looks and his body – but his skull is sporting a ‘Suebian Knot’. The knot – the logical next step after the recent man-bun obsession – signalled that Osterby Man definitely wasn’t a slave.
A free man, Osterby would have been proudly showing off his knot on the battlefield – where it supposedly made him look taller. Tom Cruise needs to get himself a Suebian Knot ASAP instead of those stack heels he insists on wearing.
5. Clonycavan Man Got Mashed Up By A Machine – 2,300 Years After He Died
Another bog body, another grim tale of death and dismemberment. Clonycavan Man was found inside a machine used to harvest peat. Well, half of him was found. Just his head and torso survived and it’s assumed that his legs got mangled by the machine. It took his hands too. What did survive was a rather stylish Mohawk that Clonycavan Man styled using an ancient gel made from pine resin and plant oils. Ancient manscaping was obviously hot for organics.
Metrosexual grooming aside, Clonycaven Man is now left with a creepy torso that you might expect to see crawling along the ground in The Walking Dead. Bonus facts: Clonycavan Man’s nipples have been sliced off. Which is a touch more hardcore than anything your girl is reading in 50 Shades. Apparently, back in the day, Irish men sucked on the King’s chest to show submission.
4. People Thought Yde Girl Was The Devil
It’s not difficult to see why people thought Yde was the devil. That one gnarly tooth – the bright red hair – all pretty grim. Add in the fact that Yde was dug up in 1897, when people believed all sorts of crazy things. Except Yde was just a 16 year old girl who died over 2,000 years ago. Though her remains were so disturbing, the people that found her ran away and left her in the peat bog.
She was found 9 days later by the mayor (who presumably confirmed she wasn’t the devil) and villagers set about grabbing a macabre Yde souvenir – that’s why most of her teeth are missing. They took some of her hair and bones too. Which means that in 1897, there were more than a few Dutch houses with random bits of Yde displayed on their shelf.
You can check out what’s left of this gruesome bog body at the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands.
3. This Is All That’s Left Of Oldcroghan Man
Ancient bog bodies are the disturbing, gnarly, twisted up leathery stuff of nightmares. The only thing that’s worse? Finding just a torso. No legs, no head, just a creepy couple of well preserved arms – complete with fingerprints. Like most of the bog bodies found, we really don’t know much about Oldcroghan Man – but archaeologists do love to spin a good yarn. Their version of events stipulates that Oldcroggy was royalty. Not only that but they reckon he was killed to make way for a new monarch.
Let’s not blame the archaeologists for getting carried away with their imaginative stories for these bog bodies. It must be a welcome relief after poking and scraping at this grim torso for days on end. I think we’d all retreat into a fantasy world if our day job involved examining 2,000 year old intestines. What we do know about Oldcroghan Man is that he was found near Dublin, Ireland. Whether he was a noble Irish king is unclear, but in death, it doesn’t seem to matter. Especially when you don’t have a head to put a crown on.
2. Every Single Organ Was Found Perfectly Preserved In Haraldskær Woman’s Body
When Haraldskær Woman was found in 1835, biologists were amazed to find every single organ in her body perfectly preserved. We’re probably not talking ‘fresh and plump’ preserved here, but still, intact and examinable. Which is more than we can say for Haraldskær Woman’s face. That, my friends, is the stuff of nightmares.
Do you know what else is the stuff of nightmares? When scientists revisited this corpse in 2000, they were able to poke around in her stomach contents and discovered she lived on a diet of unhusked millet and blackberries. That’s a meal no-one wants to see in an unfiltered Instagram shot.
If you want to see this bog body up close, go to St. Nicolai Church in Vejle, Denmark. Bonus points available if you can survive the visit without needing extensive therapy afterwards.
1. Dätgen Man Was Decapitated After He Died
If you wound up in a peat bog back in the day, chances are you suffered a hideously graphic and brutal death. And things generally only got worse from there. Take Dätgen Man. He was beaten, stabbed to death and then decapitated. His torso-less head was then pinned to the ground – just in case it decided to rejoin his body at some point – and then he was left in a bog.
A bog which more or less perfectly preserved him for someone to find years later and stuff into a museum. Except his intestines were so well preserved that they are kept in a special separate box because they’re still full if you catch my drift. That’s no way to spend eternity.
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