“Feast days accompanied by human sacrifices attracted participants from all over the district, and special persons were selected as the sacrificial victims.” – The Bog People
P. V. Glob was a Danish archaeologist, prolific in the mid twentieth century. He became famous for his work on Iron Age bodies discovered in Danish bogs. He subsequently published a book about his findings entitled The Bog People. I first heard about The Bog People while attending lectures on Seamus Heaney. He used P. V. Glob’s work as inspiration for some of his poetry collections concerned with the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Glob’s book is nothing short of extraordinary. I had difficulty procuring a copy and when I finally got my hands on one, it was held together by a flimsy elastic band because all the pages had fallen from the spine. The book is dedicated to a group of English school girls who expressed an interest in the archaeologist’s findings when they first came to light in the international press. Needless to say this was comic considering the macabre content of the subsequent pages.
Glob recounts the discoveries of bodies in bogs, mostly in and around Jutland, an area of Denmark. They are thought to date back to the Iron Age and are almost completely intact thanks to the acidic quality of the bogs they were preserved in. He explains his findings in clear and unadorned prose and puts forward the hypothesis that some of the bodies were human sacrifices. Despite his standing as a man of science, Glob does not hide his awe at these discoveries and instills in the reader a sense of wonder that makes looking at the series of images included in the book slightly less nauseating.
I read The Bog People while consuming large quantities of my favourite milk chocolate, Café Tasse, from Belgium. Its creaminess, without being excessively sweet, allowed me to keep a firm grip on reality while learning about Glob’s amazing yet harrowing discoveries.