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He used an axe to dismember her remains, then tried to burn them. When that failed, he scattered them in the bog. To the policeman in charge, Detective Inspector George Abbott, it seemed an open-and-shut case. The forensics showed a woman of the right age, and Reyn-Bardt had made a clear confession.

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Not satisfied, Abbott sent the head to Oxford University for further study. The trial was conducted at the Chester Crown Court in December Reyn-Bardt sought to have his charge downgraded from murder to manslaughter. Radiocarbon dating showed the remains were around 17 centuries old, dating all the way back to Roman Britain. Reyn-Bardt tried to recant his confession but was convicted of murder by a jury count of 11 to 1. He spent the rest of his life in prison. This sordid tale might have slipped away as just another gruesome historical anecdote. But a year later Andy Mould made a second morbid discovery in the peat.

Again the police were called. That day, Rick Turner , county archaeologist for Cheshire, received a tip-off from the local paper about the find. The results of that tip would link his name to what became one of the most famous archaeological finds in British history: Lindow Man. And these remains in turn would wind up at the center of a scientific debate over a murder mystery nearly 2, years in the making. The head and leg found at Lindow Moss are examples of increasingly well-known phenomena called bog bodies.

Human remains have been turning up in the peat bogs of Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, the United Kingdom, northern Germany, and occasionally North America for hundreds of years. These bodies can be amazingly well preserved. Even 8,year-old bog bodies can be in much better condition than the carefully prepared mummies of ancient Egypt. The famous Tollund Man of Denmark, for instance, could almost pass for an old man peacefully asleep, with a hat still on his head, whiskers on his chin—and a leather garrote around his neck.

And the bog must stay wet all year. The best-preserved bodies have been found in colder bogs, particularly those closer to the sea. Sphagnum mosses change the chemistry of the bodies of water around them, making them highly acidic for a natural environment a pH of roughly 3. As the floating mosses die, they build up layers at the bottom of the bog.

The decaying mosses release sugars and humic acids into the water, which consume oxygen as they break down. With the surface blocked by the live moss, the water becomes anaerobic. Instead they tan like leather. Skin turns brown, hair turns red, and objects in or around the body dissolve away, as does most clothing. The first recorded bog body was found in at Schalkholz Fen in Germany. Since then hundreds of bodies have been found, primarily in northern Europe.

They often display signs of violence and so are presumed to be murder victims. For centuries, after a body was discovered, it was most often given Christian reburial, and the remains rotted away. But by the 19th century there was greater interest taken in the scientific aspects of the phenomenon, though the techniques and methods of preservation of the bodies were limited.

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It worked, but the resulting dehydration caused the body to shrink. In the early s Danish researchers were able to preserve the head, feet, and a thumb from Tollund Man by replacing the bog water in the cells with liquid paraffin and then beeswax. Preservation protocols were much improved by , when Lindow Man was discovered. The day after the leg was found, Rick Turner went out to the site and found a flap of skin sticking out of the peat slab.

He and the police agreed the site would be excavated the following Monday, leaving him just days to assemble a team and make a plan. Here, rainfall is 1,mm per year and the acid peat substrate ranges from 2 to 7m deep. Atlantic blanket bog vegetation has a characteristic grassy appearance due to the occurrence of purple moor grass Molinia caerulea and black bog rush Schoenus nigricans. Patterned surfaces of pools, flat and sloped areas, flushes and swallow holes are important features of blanket bogs. Mountain blanket bogs occur on relatively flat terrain in the mountain ranges above m altitude.

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Here rainfall is high and evaporation is low. Mountain blanket bogs are rain fed and their peat is acidic. The vegetation is characterised by the presence of ericoid shrubs and in particular ling heather Calluna vulgaris , crowberry Empetrum nigrum and bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus. Natural drains, lakes and flushes are features of mountain blanket bogs. Blanket bog formation in the mountains and lowlands of the west of Ireland started at the end of the last glaciation, 10, years ago.

Initially peat formation was confined to shallow lakes and wet hollows. Over time an infilling sequence from open water to fen and acid peat occurred to form the blanket bog habitat we find today. Later, acid peat spread out to form a blanket covering huge areas of poorly drained land. While some spread may have taken place as early as 7, years ago, many areas were not engulfed until 4, years ago when the climate became wetter.

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Heavy rainfall caused minerals such as iron to be washed out or leached from the surface layers of the soil, a process know as paludifacation. These were deposited lower down where they formed an impermeable layer known as an iron pan. Water cannot move down through such a layer and the soil surface became waterlogged as a result. Under these conditions the accumulation and spread of peat was made possible. Atlantic Blanket Bogs are found in low-lying coastal plains and valleys in mountainous areas of western counties, below m O.

Mountain Blanket Bogs occur on relatively flat terrain in the higher Irish mountains above m O. Atlantic blanket bogs and mountain blanket bogs are the most extensive of the Irish peatland types and originally covered an area of ,ha. Blanket bog occurs on flat or sloping land with poor surface drainage, in cool, wet, oceanic climates.

Formed of a deep body of peat, raised bog can be several metres higher than the surrounding land and covered with a skin of typical bog vegetation. In practice, the size of the bog and frequently a fringe of secondary woodland make this extraordinary domed structure hard to appreciate - it tends to be the location flat valley bottoms and lowland plains , bog vegetation and protected status that identify intact raised bogs. Raised bogs are much wetter than the surrounding land - the peat acts as a sponge, retaining rainwater that is only gradually released through evaporation, the slightly more porous sides of the bog, and sometimes a small stream arising from the bog.

In some cases, a lens of water just below the surface makes the bog quake underfoot.

These very wet conditions are ideal for acid-loving bog-mosses, cotton grasses, heather, cross-leaved heath, bog asphodel and deer-grass, species otherwise more common in the cooler, wetter uplands. Degraded bogs have fewer bog-mosses and scrub encroachment is a common consequence of drainage or water abstraction from the underlying aquifer. Raised bogs have their origins in shallow glacial lakes and wet hollows.

Over long time periods, each lake or hollow became filled with the un-decayed remains of marginal vegetation and silt, and peat began to form. Gradually the influence of the more nutrient-rich margins decreased and conditions became favourable for peat-forming bog-mosses, which increased the volume of peat until the surface vegetation became completely isolated from the ground water and was fed entirely by rain water, creating the very infertile, acid conditions typical of bogs.

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