Young Readers Book Review of Bog Mummies Preserved in Peat

by DerdriuMarriner

"Bog Mummies, Preserved in Peat" spotlights for young readers the natural preservation of mummies by the interplay of cold water, moisture-absorbing moss, and time.

The word bog calls forth images of moisture, moss and peat. Since the mid-twentieth century, it also inspires thoughts of mummies.

The book "Bog Mummies: Preserved in Peat" tells the story of people preserved for hundreds or thousands of years in Europe’s peat bogs. It is one of four books in a mummy series published by Capstone High-Interest Books in 2003.

Two books in Capstone's Mummy Series were written by Charlotte Wilcox:
• Animal Mummies;
• Bog Mummies.
Two were written by Eric Kudalis:
• Ice Mummies;
• The Royal Mummies.

peat bog vegetation: Sphagnum mossaids in preservation of bog bodies

Tříjezerní slať (Three lake moor), Šumava
Tříjezerní slať (Three lake moor), Šumava


Bog Mummies: Preserved in Peat sensitively discusses a delicate topic for young readers aged 8+, in third grade and up.


Decomposition naturally begins when life ends. It continues until all internal organs, skin and tissue decay and only bones remain. But decomposition does not move uninterruptedly from beginning to end.

Bacteria and fungi break down lifeless organs, skin and tissue. But obstructions can affect decomposers carrying out their responsibilities. Human intervention or natural forces may obstruct decay.

Embalmers are trained to intervene in decomposition. Extremes of arid heat or freezing cold naturally hinder decomposition. Mummification in peat is an example of freezing cold-related natural forces.

Mummification in peat is the only decomposition-buster presented in Bog Mummies, written by Charlotte Wilcox and published by Capstone High-Interest Books in 2003. The book makes up one of four titles in Capstone’s Mummies Series. Animal Mummies (2003) by Charlotte Wilcox and Ice Mummies (2003) and The Royal Mummies(2003) by Eric Kudalis represent the other three.

The book’s first and third chapters mention Europe’s peat-preserved mummies:

  • Denmark’s Borremose I (1946), Grauballe Man (1952), and Tollund Man (1950); 
  • England’s Lindow I (1984), II (1984) and III (1987); and 
  • Germany’s Windeby Girl (1952).

The second chapter reveals scientific explanations for peat mummification. The final chapter summarizes cultural reasons for bog mummies.

Bog mummification happens when people fall -- accidentally or deliberately -- into almost-freezing water. Decayed matter has to be on the pond’s or pool’s bottom. Sphagnum moss must be on the water’s surface.

Moss absorbs water. The water body ultimately becomes layered 10 to 40 feet (3 to 12 meters) thick with peat formed from dead sphagnum. Peat preserves but flattens bodies which moss tans and whose bones thereby soften.

Bog mummies can be hundreds or thousands of years old. Thousand-year-old mummies tend to be sacrificial victims in spiritual rituals. Hundred-year-old mummies tend to represent accidental falls, punished criminals, or suicides.

Europe’s bogs in Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, and Ireland are precious resources. Peat rarely is cut manually nowadays. Peat-cutting machinery puts workers too high up to distinguish mummies from peat. Ironically, therefore, other mummies most likely will stay where their cultures intended them: in bogs to appease spirit worlds or to pay for crimes.


Bog Mummies ends with a glossary and an index. It includes recommended reading and resources to visit in the world and on the internet. It is an informative, interesting book for young readers who understand the cycle of birth, maturity, and death.


Head of bog body Tollund Man

Found on 1950-05-06 near Tollund, Silkebjorg, Denmark and C14 dated to approximately 375-210 BCE
Found on 1950-05-06 near Tollund, Silkebjorg, Denmark and C14 dated to approximately 375-210 BCE



My special thanks to talented photographers and concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Image Credits


Tříjezerní slať (Three lake moor), Šumava: Wikimol, CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @

Found on 1950-05-06 near Tollund, Silkebjorg, Denmark and C14 dated to approximately 375-210 BCE: Sven Rosborn, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons @


the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 10/03/2022, DerdriuMarriner
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