Essay On The Tollund Man

After careful analysis of Lindow Man, Tollund Man, Clonycavan Man, Old Croghan Man, and Grauballe man, many commonalities between them emerged. All of the bodies studied were exhumed from bogs that were used as fuel sources, which suggests that bogs were important resources in Iron Age European societies. The bodies were all discovered by peat cutters as well, emphasizing that bogs are still used and valued as important fuel sources to this day. Another common factor between the five bodies is that they were all either discovered naked or found adorned with small leather goods, with no other grave goods in the bog. 

The lack of clothing and grave goods suggests that the bodies didn't deserve a proper burial with grave goods and were subsequently buried naked as a form of punishment or ritual. The main similarity between these five cases of bog bodies is that they all exhibited signs of a violent death. Grauballe Man and Lindow Man both possess slits to their throats, Clonycavan Man was victim to multiple axe wounds, Tollund Man was hung with a noose, and Old Croghan Man only consists of a torso. Giles suggests that bog bodies are often distinguished by an abnormality or deformity that would render them to be chosen as social outcasts or scapegoats for sacrifice at periods of communal crisis (Giles 2009: 86). While it is difficult to identify deformities on violently sacrificed bodies, the brutal nature of their deaths certainly suggests that they could have been identified as deviants or social outcasts and been chosen for sacrifice. Another common feature of these bodies is that they were all killed around the same time, between 392-201 BC which suggests that there is a common ideology during the Late Iron Age that utilized bogs as depositional locations for the deceased. 

From the evidence presented, it is clear that these Northern European Iron Age communities were intentionally placing bodies that were murdered or sacrificed into bogs, but because there are no uniform practices it is difficult to generalize their significance. Peat bogs may need to be actively excavated in order to preserve these bodies from damage and to understand the range of burials in the bogs. However, what we can conclude is that during the Late Iron Age in Europe there seemed to be a dominant ideology that places importance on bogs as areas to deposit their dead. Through examination of the similarities in time of death, lack of clothing and grave goods, and circumstances of their death, we can be confident that bogs were used as sacrificial spaces or for the disposal of deviant citizens. While there has been significant progress in the analysis and interpretations of bog bodies over that few decades, there is still much that is unknown. We suggest that further analysis of bodies that were originally examined decades ago be completed because current technology could possibly provide us with more detailed interpretations than previously available. More research
also needs to be conducted on the specific areas in which these individuals were discovered to examine whether or not there is a cross-cultural pattern of bog bodies being burried within, or just beyond ancient boundary lines as seen in Old Croghan Man and Clonycavan Man. Through an examination of the landscape perhaps in the future archaeologists could discover whether these individuals were burried within the community boundary lines as markers, or perhaps outside the community as social deviants.

Seamus Heaney wrote poems on a wide variety of subjects; from reflecting on his experiences with nature as a child to a period of political turmoil that plagued Ireland in the early 20th century called the “Troubles.” Some of his poems address many issues together and have recurring themes and ideas. An example is a series of poems called Bog poems: ‘Bogland,’ ‘Tollund man’ and ‘The Grauballe man,’ which share an obvious geographic theme but also show a similar concern towards themes like violence, religion, and terror.

The first poem Bogland is a poem that looks at Bogs more from a nationalistic point of view. Bog lands are wetlands that accumulate peat, a deposit of dead plant material. Bogs are a topographic feature of Ireland and are a common occurrence in countries part of the Northern Hemisphere. The speaker of the poem opens the first stanza with the word ‘We’, which is a possessive pronoun and conveys a sense of unity with the land. In the opening lines, there is a contrast between the physical geography of United States with the Irish landscape,“We have no prairies/ To slice a big sun at evening”, and what apparently seems as a negative statement is turned into a positive assertion with words like “ encroaching horizon...

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