Come ‘face-to-face’ with the Iron Age Bog Bodies at Ireland’s Archaeology Museum

Despite moaning constantly about paying £9k a year for a meagre 4 contact hours a week (all on a Thursday), the benefit of having so little time spent in lectures is that I am able to head off on longer trips, without feeling guilty for missing class. For this reason, last week, Larry and I jetted off to Dublin! IT WAS GREAT. I’m currently smack bang in the middle of essay deadline season, but I can’t resist quickly mentioning some of my favourite adventures/ places I really liked and reckon you’ll really like too.

On one of the rainiest days I have ever, ever experienced, we decided to take cover in the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology section (I’m a little confused about what the official title of this place is, but stick with me.) Open since 1890, with over 2 million artefacts documenting life in Ireland from 7000BC until the 20th Century, this place is basically a treasure trove for anyone with an interest in people from the past.

I appreciate that it might seem at the moment that I harp on and on and on about museums and castles and blahblahblah – BUT, the Irish archaeology museum is actually a bit insane. The building itself is beautiful and built in the neo-classical style mimicking the gorgeous classical buildings from Ancient Greece and Rome. The domed roof, classical marble columns, and crazy ornate mosaic floors are a beautiful things to experience in themselves.

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The exhibitions within, however, are really what all of the fuss is about. Learn about prehistoric Ireland, from 7000BC. See the collection of Stone Tools, the recreated Neolithic Passage Tomb, and the legit 15m long, 4,500 year old Log Boat. Pretty amazing stuff to see, and a really accessible introduction to the Celts as before my trip I knew very very little about Druids and Celtic history. The collection of Bronze Age gold-work (dating from 2200BC-500BC) is also definitely worth checking out as it is the largest collection in Western Europe. There are collars, bracelets, sun disks, earrings and who-knows what else made of the shiny, ornately decorated stuff. I kind of wanted to borrow/have some please.

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But really the craziest exhibit of all is that of the Bog Bodies. This exhibition explores Iron Age kingship and its connection with ritual sacrifice. Long story short, archaeologists have discovered the bodies of some seemingly high status people from 400-200BC, who had been naturally mummified due to the conditions of the bogs in which their bodies were ritually placed/dumped. Some of these bodies had been decapitated, some de-bowled, all of them killed, and now they are on display in the museum for you to look at. A literal opportunity to come ‘face-to-face’ with people of the past. And, to put it mildly, it’s pretty gnarly. Their skin is leathery and grey and they are in various states of decomposition. One of them is so well preserved that you can see that he is sporting the currently fashionable top-knot hairstyle. It was intense. But definitely go and have a look if you’re feeling brave!

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For a quick introduction into Ireland’s past, this museum is a must. It’s a beautiful place, a perfect shelter spot from the inevitable Irish rain, and also pretty gruesome! What’s stopping you?!

USEFUL INFO:

* Admission: Freeeeeeeeeeee
* Opening times: 10am – 5pm (Except on a Sunday when it opens at 2pm)
* There is a cafe, a cloakroom and a gift shop. However, a big coach party of old people had preceded us into the museum, so we didn’t make use of any of these.
* Bring with you: A strong stomach.
* National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology,
Kildare St.
Dublin 2.
* http://www.museum.ie/en/intro/archaeology-and-ethnography-museum.aspx
* http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bog_body – wiki about bog bodies

Maybe you’d also enjoy some other archaeology-related posts? Have a look here because that’s where you’ll find them. Or maybe some more about museums? Museums are goooood. The end.

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