Irish prehistoric bog body may have been sacrifice victim

image captionThe lower part of the body was preserved by chemicals in the peat

Human remains found in an Irish bog could be up to 3,000 years old, according to archaeologists.

The body, thought to be that of a woman, was discovered by the driver of a turf-milling machine in the bog near Portlaoise in the Midlands on Wednesday.

Parts of the body, including the head and torso which had been enclosed in a leather bag, did not survive, but the legs had been preserved by the chemicals in the peat.

Work was halted at the bog at Cul na Mona while police and archaeologists were called.

Experts from the National Museum of Ireland believe the prehistoric find may have been the victim of a ritual sacrifice.

Axe heads

Initial indications are that the remains, which were found in an area of archaeological interest, are at least 2,000 years old and possibly closer to 3,000.

Several other finds have been made in the same bog in recent years including leather shoes, axe heads and bog butter, which some experts believe may have been buried as a means of preservation.

The remains will be taken to the National Museum in Dublin for analysis and radio carbon dating.

Ned Kelly, head of antiquities at the museum who travelled to the site, said more than 100 bodies and parts of bodies had been found in bogs in Ireland.

"On preliminary examination we can be reasonably certain that it is a late prehistoric bog body," he said.

"This was probably a ritual deposition of a human sacrifice."