Ten thousand years ago, when the ice age ended and the ice began to recede, deep pond like depressions were left in the land. Over time these became water logged environments that filled with vegetation. Over millennia these areas transformed into what we know today we know as the Irish raised bog!
Peat bogs are by nature cold, acidic, oxygen free environments. This makes them a little like a naturally occurring air tight cold room!
Over the years centuries many interesting things have been discovered from the bog. Troves of precious treasures to ancient stashes of bog butter, long lost or forgotten. But perhaps the most enigmatic and fascinating are the ancient Bog Bodies that have puzzled and challenged archaeologists down through the years.
Often remarkably preserved one such example is Old Croghan Man whom archaelogists believe was ritually killed between 362 BC and 175 BC. He bears all the markings of a nobleman. "Human sacrafice was a normal part of Celtc life" according to Ned Kelly of the National Museum of Ireland. And there are numerous other examples to back up what he says. Another example is Clonycavan Man who seems to have met a similar fate.
On the right is Clonycavan Man, named after the place he was found in Co. Meath. He dates from the iron age. Radiocarbon dating showed that Clonycavan Man lived between 392 and 201 B.C. One remarkable feature is his elaborate hair style. It was held in place by an ancient form of hair gel - pine resin. Unbelievably, this had been imported form south west France or Spain. His diet was rich in vegetables and protein.
It is thought he was a king who was held responsible and was ritually sacrificed when some misfortune struck, it could have been a plague or poor harvests. Apparently there is evidence that this may have been common practice at the time.
There is a permanent display of Bog Bodies and their fascinating story at the National Museum of Ireland and currently there is an exhibition called Kingship & Sacrafice: Bog Bodies. It's well worth avisit - and its free!