Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Another Bog Body Song

I've talked before about a great song about a bog body, The Triffids' "Jerdacuttup Man". Now Markus Andersson has pointed me to another song in this lyrical niche, The Mountain Goats' "Tollund Man". It's from the 1995 disc Sweden. The Goats are actually mostly one Californian guy named John Darnielle, and the music is a wistful little piece with just an acoustic guitar, a bass and vocals.
Tollund man
by John Darnielle

I was sitting at the edge of the marsh
when the council came to bring me the news.
They handed me a bowl of cooked wild grasses and they
gave me the ceremonial shoes.

Goodbye young Danish women.
Goodbye Danish sky.
Goodbye cold air I am going away.
Goodbye goodbye goodbye.
The Tollund man is an uncommonly well preserved Danish bog body found in 1950 near Silkeborg in Jutland. He was hanged and his body buried in a bog some time in the 4th century BC.

Why these people were killed and bogged is a matter of dispute. Some point to something Tacitus wrote and suggest they were army deserters or gay men, which cannot explain the many female bog bodies. Others contend they were simply criminals, sacrifices or criminals used as sacrifices. Most recently, Allan Lund has suggested that some bog bodies are victims of witch hunts, as occur still in some African cultures. This would explain the often extremely violent deaths of these people, as well as the unusual disposal of their bodies. Bogs may have been seen as safe for getting rid of dangerous bodies with uncanny powers.

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