Quirks & Quarks

Mummies Got Bogged Down in Bronze Age Britain

Ancient Britons used a variety of techniques to preserve their dead.

Intentional preservation of human remains was widespread in ancient Britain

This skeleton from Bronze age Britain shows signs of mummification. (Geoff Morley)
Although the practise of mummification is most commonly associated with ancient Egypt, archaeological evidence suggests that it was also widespread throughout Britain, several thousand years ago during the Bronze Age.

Dr. Tom Booth, currently at the Natural History Museum in London, studied skeletons from several Bronze Age sites around Britain. The bones were similar to those of known mummies from other places, in terms of degradation. In both cases, the deterioration had been slowed by the mummification process.

In the British mummies, that process included a variety of methods, such as smoking, preservation in peat bogs and wrapping bodies in animal hides. 

Related Links

- Antiquity - Paper to appear in future journal issue
- University of Sheffield release
Smithsonian Magazine story
- The Guardian story