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More bog bodies than any other bog in Britain

In the past, bogs, with their ‘will o’ the wisps’, have been regarded as sacred places to make votive offerings and possibly human sacrifices.  Their treacherous pools were thought in Celtic times to be the entry to the Underworld of the Gods.

Unfortunately, 1889 newspaper reports are all that remain of the bog bodies, two male, one female, which peat cutters found on the Mosses. The ‘pickling’ bog water had dissolved their bones but preserved their clothes and hair and their skin like tanned leather. Once buried in Whitchurch and Whixall churchyards, they quickly would have disintegrated.

In c.1867, in a treacherous part of the bog, Henry Simpson and Thomas Woodward found the body of a young man, partly covered by a leather apron, “2 - 3 feet” down in the peat, in a sitting position near a three-legged stool.  

In c.1877 the body of a woman was found by George Heath, at a similar depth.

In 1889 Henry Slack and Thomas Parsons found the naked body of a man, almost 6 feet tall, lying flat between the black and grey peat layers, “4 – 5 feet” down in the peat to the west of Manor House (near the Main Drain), “200 yards” from the site of the 1867 body and“300 yards” from the1877 find. 

Pet cutter in the 1950s            Peat cutter in the 1950s

In 1927 Mr Saywell found a Middle Bronze-Age looped axe or ‘palastave’, “8 feet down”, in the pine layer in the middle of the ‘grey peat’, therefore dating to c. 1400 BC. 

The first two may be Iron Age/Romano-British like many of the 106 British bog bodies, but the 1889 body, apparently Early Bronze Age, is one of the earliest.

Only one other British bog body, like the 1867 body, had any clothing, but his stool, now lost, is unique.

Think, when you walk on the Mosses: what might the past have hidden beneath your feet?