Climate Change and Irish Bog Bodies


With a new revelation surfacing in regards to the famous Irish bog bodies, my readers should have been expecting this post from me! Since viewing the bog bodies at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin the summer before last, I have been fascinated with their history and taphonomy. I have posted about them several times before, basically every time something new arises about their preservation. Here is my first post about the Cashel Man, and the uncovering of the violent behaviors associated with his death.
In this post, you can read about my experience at the National Museum, seeing the bog bodies for the first time. And finally in this post, you can read about the relatively recent discovery of the approximated age of the Cashel Man, naming him the oldest bog body in Europe.

Anyways, below you can read more about the latest exciting discovery regarding the now-famous Cashel Man.


Irish bog bodies ‘may have been victims of climate change’
BBC documentary says high kings may have been killed to appease gods after bad harvests

“He may have been among the first victims of climate change, sacrificed because of changing weather patterns 4,000 years ago.

Cashel man, so named because of his discovery in a bog in Cashel, Co Laois in 2011, is the oldest bog body in the world and one of about 300 found in North West Europe.

His life, death and the reasons for it are the subject of a BBC 4 documentary tonight entitled ‘4,000 year-old Cold Case: The body in the Bog’.

It follows a two-year forensic examination by a team of international scientists and archaeologists, including State pathologist Marie Cassidy.

Historians differ on the reasons for their deaths but the link between them all is the evidence of ritual and very violent murder.

The programme examines the theory of team leader and keeper of antiquities at the National Museum Ned Kelly that Cashel man was a pre-historic king, killed by his followers to appease the deities because of bad harvests.

Scientists and archaeologists involved in the investigation discovered through scans and other high tech tests that Cashel man had a protein-rich diet of meat, dairy and cereals indicating a person of high social status.

Previous Irish bog bodies – Old Croghan man and Clonycavan man – were also believed to be high status individuals, said Mr Kelly.

There is a relatively huge volume of very early literary material, unlike other countries where Celts lived, and the writings of monks highlighted stories of high kings being sacrificed.

All three were buried at the foot of inauguration hills, where hill and bog mark the boundaries of ancient kingdoms. Far more was done to the men than was needed to kill them.

“The more violent the killing, the more valuable the sacrifice” to appease the gods, according to Mr Kelly.

A one-metre depth of peat can yield 1,000 years of history and analysis of fossilized amoebas by wetlands archaeologist Dr Ben Geary of UCC reveals a shift to a wetter, colder environment during the Bronze/Iron Age, where rainfall increased and weather cooled.


For pre-historic tribes it was a disaster, destroying the harvest and leaving the community facing starvation.

Their solution, according to the theory is to kill the king, appease the gods and hope for a better harvest – an early response to climate change.”


Read the full article here.

Further Reading:
Cashel Man’s Violent Past
 Bog Body Exhibit at National Museum of Ireland
 Cashel Man, Oldest Bog Body in Europe 


3 responses to “Climate Change and Irish Bog Bodies

  1. I have read about those bogs and how it must be an awful death, really, to go down into one, swallowed up without anyone to come to one’s aid to help out. I would imagine there are lots of bogs with treasures and other finds inside of them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s