Bog Bodies in Context: Developing a Best Practice Approach

Henry Chapman*, R. van Beek, Ben Gearey, Ben Jennings, D. Smith, Nina Helt Nielsen, Zena Zein Elabdin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Bog bodies are among the best-known archaeological finds worldwide. Much of the work on these often extremely well-preserved human remains has focused on forensics, whereas the environmental setting of the finds has been largely overlooked. This applies to both the ‘physical’ and ‘cultural’ landscape and
constitutes a significant problem since the vast spatial and temporal scales over which the practice appeared demonstrate that contextual assessments are of the utmost importance for our explanatory frameworks.
In this article we develop best practice guidelines for the contextual analysis of bog bodies, after assessing the current state of research and presenting the results of three recent case studies including the well-known finds of Lindow Man in the United Kingdom, Bjældskovdal (Tollund Man and Elling Woman) in Denmark, and Yde Girl in the Netherlands. Three spatial and chronological scales
are distinguished and linked to specific research questions and methods. This provides a basis for further discussion and a starting point for developing approaches to bog body finds and future discoveries, while facilitating and optimizing the re-analysis of previous studies, making it possible to compare deposition sites across time and space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-249
JournalEuropean Journal of Archaeology
Issue number2
Early online date29 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • bog bodies
  • Europe
  • landscape
  • peatlands
  • scalar analysis
  • site location


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