Bog bodies

Face to face with the past

By Melanie Giles

Bog bodies

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5018-9
  • Pages: 328
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: December 2020
  • BIC Category: Reference, information & interdisciplinary subjects / Museology & heritage studies, Archaeology, Roman Britain (c 43 BCE to c 410 CE), Museology & heritage studies, Landscape archaeology, Environmental Archaeology, Humanities / Landscape archaeology, Prehistoric Archaeology, Iron Age, Environmental archaeology, England, Archaeology by period / region, HISTORY / Ancient / General, ART / Museum Studies, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology


The 'bog bodies' of north-western Europe have captured the imaginations of poets and archaeologists alike, allowing us to come face-to-face with individuals from the past. Their exceptional preservation permits us to examine minute details of their lives and deaths, making us reflect poignantly on our own mortality. But, as this book argues, the bodies must be resituated within a turbulent world of endemic violence and change. Reinterpreting the latest continental research and new discoveries, and featuring a ground-breaking 'cold case' forensic study of Worsley Man, Manchester Museum's 'bog head', it brings the bogs to life through both natural history and folklore, revealing them as places that were rich and fertile yet dangerous. The book also argues that these remains do not just pose practical conservation problems but also philosophical dilemmas, compounded by the critical debate on if - and how - they should be displayed.


'[...] this book is so much more than just an archaeological text setting out what we know about these fascinating remains. Giles takes us on a journey that is poignant, moving and often deeply personal. I have so much empathy in how Giles relates her work to her own sense of bereavement, having lost my own mother recently, that I am left saying, "Hell yes - this is archaeology". Archaeology of the very best kind - the kind that helps you explore what it is to be human.'
British Archaeology, Neil Redfern


1 Introduction
2 Discovering bog bodies
3 Preserving the dead
4 Crossing the bog
5 Exquisite things and everyday treasures: interpreting deposition in the bog
6 Violent ends
7 Worsley Man: Manchester's bog head
8 Disquieting exhibits
9 Conclusion: creative legacies


Melanie Giles is Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Manchester

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