Open Access (free)
Face to face with the past
Author: Melanie Giles

The ‘bog bodies’ of north-western Europe have captured the imagination of poets as much as archaeologists, confronting us with human remains where time has stopped – allowing us to come ‘face to face’ with individuals from the past. Their exceptional preservation allows us to examine unprecedented details of both their lives and deaths, making us reflect poignantly upon our own mortality. Yet this book argues that they must be resituated within a turbulent world of endemic violence and change, reinterpreting the latest Continental research and new discoveries in this light. The book features a ground-breaking ‘cold case’ forensic study of Worsley Man: Manchester Museum’s ‘bog head’ and brings the bogs to life through both natural history and folklore, as places that were rich, fertile, yet dangerous. Finally, it argues that these remains do not just pose practical conservation problems but philosophical dilemmas, compounded by the critical debate on if – and how – they should be displayed, with museum exemplars drawn from across the globe

Open Access (free)
Melanie Giles

Introduction They lay in the peat moss 28 years and 9 months before they were looked at again, when some Countrymen, having observed, I suppose, the extraordinary Quality of this Soil, in preserving dead bodies from corrupting, were curious enough to open the ground to see if these Persons had been so preserved, and found them in no way altered, the Colour of their Skin being fair and natural, their Flesh soft as that of Persons newly dead. (Part of a letter from Dr Charles Balguy of Peterborough, to Cromwell Mortimer, MD, cited in Balguy 1735 : 413) This

in Bog bodies
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5 5 2 2 Editorial Editorial Pouget Benoît benoit.pouget@univ-amu.fr 10 2019 12 11 2019 5 5 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 10.7227/HRV.5.2.1 Article Treatment of the bodies of those killed in French mercenary operations between 1960 and 1989 Bruyère-Ostells Walter

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Deaths and politicised deaths in Buenos Aires’s refuse
Mariano D. Perelman

The appearance of corpses in rubbish tips is not a recent phenomenon. In Argentina, tips have served not only as sites for the disposal of bodies but also as murder scenes. Many of these other bodies found in such places belong to individuals who have suffered violent deaths, which go on to become public issues, or else are ‘politicised deaths’. Focusing on two cases that have received differing degrees of social, political and media attention – Diego Duarte, a 15-year-old boy from a poor background who went waste-picking on an open dump and never came back, and Ángeles Rawson, a girl of 16 murdered in the middle-class neighbourhood of Colegiales, whose body was found in the same tip – this article deals with the social meanings of bodies that appear in landfills. In each case, there followed a series of events that placed a certain construction on the death – and, more importantly, the life – of the victim. Corpses, once recognised, become people, and through this process they are given new life. It is my contention that bodies in rubbish tips express – and configure – not only the limits of the social but also, in some cases, the limits of the human itself.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Displaying the dead
Melanie Giles

Introduction: ‘exposed for a sight’ The first attested ‘exhibiting’ of bog bodies appears to be the Hope couple, who died in a snowstorm in the Peak District of northern Britain in 1674 (see Chapter 2 ). Following their burial on the spot when the snow had melted, they lay undisturbed in the ‘peat moss’ for ‘twenty-eight years and nine months’ when the curiosity of the locals got the better of them. Dr Charles Balguy, the medic from Peterborough who had grown up in Hope, attributes this interest to the parishioners’ knowledge of peat’s preservative properties

in Bog bodies
Open Access (free)
Melanie Giles

Haunting auras From the earliest antiquarian letters to the poetic evocations of Heaney, the words used to describe bog bodies conjure their remarkable yet unsettling power. They are ‘entire and uncorrupted’ (Leigh 1700 : 65), found as ‘in a common posture of sleep’ (de la Pryme 1870 : 983), ‘as fresh as if death had occurred the preceding day’ (Gear 1883 , cited in Cowie et al. 2011 : 8). Yet the bog has inevitably altered and stained these remains; they are described by Low as ‘rolled up in their own leather’ (cited in Anderson 1879 : liii) or ‘tanned

in Bog bodies
Open Access (free)
Creative legacies
Melanie Giles

our lives. His point is that archaeology is not some neat, systematic endeavour uncovering history in a sequential manner. It is messy, confusing and disconcerting. It comes at us in the midst of our own lives where we must make sense of it; thus the past is always in dialogue with the issues and concerns of the present. This book has taken that moment of irruption as its starting point, following the afterlife of the bog body: how it was reburied or revived, investigated and interpreted. It has followed how the meanings of these remains have changed through time

in Bog bodies
Open Access (free)
Melanie Giles

Once upon a time, these heads and limbs existed in order to express and embody the needs and impulses of an individual human life. They were the vehicles of different biographies and they compelled singular attention, they proclaimed ‘I am I’. Even when they were first dead, at the moment of their sacrifice or atrocity, their bodies and their limbs manifested biography and conserved vestiges of personal identity: they were corpses. But when a corpse becomes a bog body, the personal identity drops away; the bog body does not proclaim ‘I am I’; instead it says

in Bog bodies
Open Access (free)
Melanie Giles

accoutrements might have travelled. Casting the net of bog bodies wider to include skeletonised remains from places such as Sweden has allowed specialists to examine aspects of welfare and disease, which sheds a rather different light on those who ended up in the bog. Non-invasive computed tomography (CT) scanning can refine the litany of ante- and peri-mortem trauma, while forensic knowledge has enabled us to both observe subtle injuries we once missed and to write off some of the apparent ‘overkill’ we see as the result of compression in the bog or post-mortem damage during

in Bog bodies
Interpreting deposition in the bog
Melanie Giles

Introduction: things in bogs Having conjured a sense of what people were doing in bogs, what they took from them and some of the experiences they had while doing so, this chapter turns to what they left there. If we are to understand the presence of bog bodies they need to be situated within the range of other non-human objects, materials and substances that people lowered into the moss (Burmeister 2013 ). A few of these served as wrappings or accoutrements to the human remains but most of them were stand-alone deposits in their own right: things given up out

in Bog bodies