Regional patterns in bog body distribution - a case study from the UK

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Recent programmes of dating, forensic examination and landscape studies have dramatically increased our understanding of well-preserved bog bodies. However, other examples, often existing only as ‘paper bodies’, remain less visible within debates about interpretation, but can provide a more comprehensive picture of what bog bodies represent. This paper presents the results of an examination of all known bog bodies found across England, Wales and Scotland, arguing that a geographical approach provides very different outcomes compared with focusing on the well-preserved bodies in collections. Specifically, we highlight that firstly, previous assumptions about the predominant dates of bog bodies are incorrect, secondly that there are significant sub-regional patterns in the data, and thirdly, that the correlation between body date and the date of discovery provides a likely reason for this bias. Despite this, the evidence reinforces the exceptional pattern of violent deaths being a significant feature of Iron Age/Romano-British period bog bodies.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Wetland Archaeology
Early online date9 Jan 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jan 2020


  • bog bodies, regional analysis, chronology, paper bodies, violence, burial, wetland archaeology, dates of discovery