Oldcroghan Man

18 Sep

Ben Goossen

Walking through the National Museum of Ireland, I learned about many interesting artifacts. There were three items that really caught my attention. The ancient remains of several bodies preserved in Irish peat bogs were displayed at the back of the museum. I had heard about these “peat bog bodies” from the tour guide at Causey Farm, so I was eager to see one for myself. When I first got a look at the preserved remains I couldn’t believe that I was looking at a body from around 362-175 BC. The exhibit, titled “Oldcroghan Man”, displayed the torso, arms, and hands of a body found in the county of Offaly. The skin had shrunk down around the remaining bones and organs. It had turned an amber-red color, and the texture seemed almost leathery. The man was decapitated, but his arms and hands were perfectly intact, with well-manicured nails on each single finger. The pristine fingernails suggest that he was of high status because he didn’t perform manual labor. The upper left arm is adorned with a metal Celtic ornament mounted on a leather armband. A stab wound to the chest killed the Oldcroghan Man, but a cut on his arm suggests he tried to defend himself from the fatal assault.

The Oldcroghan Man perfectly represents the Iron Age period of Celtic history in Ireland. The Celtics arrived in Ireland around 300 BC. The Celtics were fierce warriors who had already discovered how to make Iron. Their Iron weapons allowed them to easily conquer the people inhabiting Ireland at the time. Within a period of a few hundred years, Celtic language and culture had spread to all parts of the island. The Oldcroghan Man embodies many aspects of this Celtic culture. The Celtics were skilled in metal design and jewelry. Many pins, brooches and pieces of Celtic jewelry have been found in archaeological digs like the piece of metal jewelry the man was found wearing on his arm. The cause of the man’s death and his mutilated body also depict the violent aspect of Celtic culture. The aristocracy in this culture was made up of the warriors, who sought fame and recognition by doing battle with their enemies.  The Celts were violent, and the fate of the Oldcroghan Man represents that aspect of the culture.


The Oldcroghan Man was most comparable to the three other “peat bog body” exhibits in the museum. All three of these artifacts were so well preserved, they were able to give us more information about ancient cultures. These artifacts can give us the most real insight into what life was actually like thousands of years ago. 

Here is a picture of the Oldcroghan Man, 


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