Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Bog Queen - A record of Seamus Heaney poems

The front page of the Guardian today featured the face of Seamus Heaney who died yesterday, an extraordinary Irish poet, praise will be heaped on him as is his due, his ability to put into words,  words that are perhaps some of the finest ever written.
Years ago I came across a book at the library of his poems relating to the 'bog' people, those Iron Age people sacrificed for the greater good of their tribes.  He had read the Scandinavian book called The Bog People by P.V.Glob. A copy sits besides me on the desk now a rich an exciting, (rather gruesome book of course), read.  Filled with stories and some poetry, it tries to fill out the lives of these people who were  often strangled and pierced by a spear, and we even have in our country the famous Lindow Man and his threefold death, found in a bog, some say to appease the gods as the Romans appeared on the British landscape and the terrible uprising on Anglesey of the Druids there.  When ever I look at one of those beautifully twisted golden torcs I am always reminded of the knotted rope found round Lindow Man's neck.  
Seamus Heaney wrote a poem on the Dying Cu Chulainn statue that is to be found in Dublin, which is about The Grauballe Man from Jutland, Denmark which has been dated to the 3rd century BC, and though horrible to look at, is a perfect example of a bog person....

The book he wrote scanning through my blogs was called North written in the 1970s  and his very long poem Kinship is to be found here

But for some more and for a record for myself, another link about the Bog Queen.  It is extraordinary that a single book by P.V.Glob inspired so many poems, that drift back into the landscape of history, violent acts and myths.


  1. P V Glob's books were what really fired my interest in archaeology back in the early 70s, after the more general books of Janet and Colin Bord had kindled the flame. I have The Bog People and the Mound People on my shelf still, snuggled up beside Don Brothwell's The Bog Man and Turner and Scaife's meatier (if you will excuse that expression!) Bog Bodies.

    I only discovered Seamus Heaney through my son reading him at school. What a wonderful poet he was.

    You have just taken me back to lectures on the Iron Age and Bog Bodies when I was at Uni. In fact, it was the announcement of an Access course in archaeology at Lampeter in the paper, titled "Stones, Bones and Bog Bodies" which leapt off the page at me and led to me doing my degree . . .

  2. Hi Jennie, I think we both went down the same route as far as archaeology was concerned, it became more and more fascinating, sometimes in a gruesome manner of course, it is really all about death in the end. Anyway if you were to look at the blog 'Landscapism' in the list on the right, I note he is also exploring wider and wider territory in the land of books. Addicted book readers that's what we are ;)

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