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Denmark's "Bog Army"

Discussion in 'Military History' started by The_Historian, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    " Danish bog has been harbouring a terrifying secret for thousands of years.
    Archaeologists have spent all summer excavating a small sample of what has turned out to be a mass grave containing skeletal remains from more than 1,000 warriors, who were killed in battle some 2,000 years ago.
    “We found a lot more human bones than we had expected,” says Ejvind Hertz, curator at Skanderborg Museum.
    The discovery of the many Iron Age bones has attracted international attention, partly because the body parts are macabre per se, but also because the bones are surprisingly well preserved. Furthermore, the find confirms a Roman source’s description of the Teutons’ atrocious war practices.
    The site is located in the Alken Enge wetlands near Lake Mossø on the Jutland peninsula."
    An entire army sacrificed in a bog | ScienceNordic
     
    gtblackwell and lwd like this.
  2. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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  3. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    Gordon, while gruesome it appears to increase insights into life in Denmark 2000 years ago. To assemble a sort of army of warrior types must include logistical support and I wonder if that might account for the mix of physical evidence or simply that an area had to fight to defend itself using all available resources. . Life obviously was not easy then !!...Or now.
     
  4. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    You could be right. It tends to read like a "fight to the last man" situation. Could it have been an invasion of some kind? Seems to be too brutal for inter-tribal warfare, but we just don't know yet.
    This paragraph gives a bit of context to the scale-
    "Each village probably consisted of three or five houses, with between eight and fifteen inhabitants—men, women, and children.
    That is approximately between 24 and 75 people per village, about half of whom were men or boys, so that is somewhere between ten and forty potential warriors per village.
    Most of the Alken warriors were between the ages of 20 and 40, and just under 5 per cent of them were not yet 20. The youngest remains were of 13-year-old boys.
    "If we say that at least 380 men died in this case, how big had the army been to begin with? It would require lots of villages to procure such an army. You can imagine it would have [involved] a very large region, which would have lost a lot of young men after the fight. Generations must have almost disappeared. It must have been very dramatic," says Juul."
     
  5. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Reading between the lines (since the bones were mixed rather than intact skeletons) I'd guess that this was an organized regional effort by the families and villages these men belonged to. The victors don't come back six months or a year later and carry off and bury the scattered and predator-chewed remains of their enemies, and these bodies were definitely the losing side, because the victors would have buried intact bodies long before they became carrion for the local wildlife. So this (in my mind) is as much a memorial as a cemetery. Those forests were searched and the scattered remains collected some time after the victors moved on. Thinking on that further, a region gutted by war (with many of the men, the food gatherers) killed is a very hungry place and probably remained so for a generation or more. The effort to do this by the hungry women, children and elderly is really striking. This was an act of love and respect.

    .
     
  6. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I agree, when the Saxons wiped out the Great Viking Army they just left the corpses lying there. About a century later, a monk wrote in a chronicle how he wandered over the site of the battle and could still see human bones sticking out of the turf.
    This looks like it was an organised collection of the remains.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I seam to recall reading of a battle between a couple of clans in Scotland where only 3 walked away from the battle on one side. Can't remember if they were the winners or the losers though. I wouldn't rule out inter-tribal warfare. On the other hand with the delay it sounds like the inhabitants were defeated and driven out only to return and perhaps not to stay several months later.
     
  8. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    If it's the one I think, it was a final showdown between two warring clans ordered by the king. Think they were allowed 14 men each, to be fought on one of the islands in the River Tay at Perth. The last man alive on one side dived on the river and swam for it, and the three on the other side were declared winners.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The one I'm thinking of had several hundred on each side. Fought somewhere in Western Scotland I think. MacDonald's may have been one side.


    *** edit for ***
    Started looking for it and found this one:
    Battle of Stracathro - Wikipedia
    Given the age the numbers may be questionable but if accurate 4,000 dead our of 5,000 is pretty heavy casualties and even the winner lost over 10%.
    Is this the one you were talking about?
    Battle of the North Inch - Wikipedia

    Finding a bunch of battles listed on Wiki that might be the one I'm thinking about as the numbers I remember may have been more legend than fact. Will look a bit more later.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018

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