Bog Bodies | Dr Melanie Giles

18 May 2023, 7:00pm - 8:30pm


The well-preserved bog bodies of northern Europe have fascinated archaeologists, poets and film-makers, yet their discovery often concerned the communities who found them. In this talk, Dr Melanie Giles (University of Manchester) shares the latest thinking about the phenomenon: explaining the science behind their preservation and the challenges this creates for museum curators, as well as discussing the ethics of displaying such remains. She situates them back within the bogs, mires and mosses from which they came; asking us to think differently about these landscapes and what they meant to prehistoric communities, as well as interrogating different ideas behind their often violent death and deposition in the bog. Amongst the cauldrons, weapons and foodstuffs also ‘offered up’ to the bog, she argues that some of them take their place as part of powerful exchanges with sacred entities but that others represent the ‘right place’ to inter those executed for crimes or dying mysterious or troubling deaths. Ending with the tale of Manchester’s own bog head – Worsley man – she will try and unpick the life and death of this bog head, whose story must be placed within that of the Roman occupation of northern Britain.

Image: Tollund Man by Rose Ferraby


Dr Melanie Giles


Dr Melanie Giles grew up in North Dorset, under the shadow of Hambledon Hill. Inspired by this site to become a specialist in the Iron Age, she volunteered at the Dorset Museum archives whilst at school, and starting digging on the Danebury project with Prof. Barry Cunliffe before studying Archaeology at the University of Sheffield. Her PhD focused on the Iron Age communities of the Yorkshire Wolds before teaching at University College Dublin, the University of Leicester and finally the University of Manchester where she is now a Senior Lecturer. She has been Vice-President of the Prehistoric Society and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and has recently completed the ‘Grave Goods’ project with colleagues at the University of Reading and the British Museum.

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