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Haraldskaer Woman "Bodies of the Bogs"


The Haraldskaer Woman is one of the few early finds that still survive today. When they were found in the Gunnelsmose ("Gunhild's bog") on the Haraldskaer estate in Denmark in 1835, it was believed that the remains were those of the Norwegian queen Gunhild. According to the Jomsvikinga saga she was killed and drowned in a bog at the instigation of the Danish king Harald Blatand (Blue Tooth). King Frederick VI had a beautiful sarcophagus carved for this alleged royal mummy, in which it was laid to rest in the church of St. Nicholas in Vejle. Not everyone was convinced that the remains derived from Queen Gunhild, and a heated controversy arose. In 1977 those who had opposed this interpretation were, posthumously, shown to be correct. A carbon date proved that the body predated the period in which Queen Gunhilde lived by some 1,500 years. The Haraldskaer body, however, undoubtedly owes its survival to this case of mistaken identity. It still lies in the church today. (Vejle Museum, Denmark)

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