Yde Girl

Her Discovery

Yde Girl is one of the most unforgettable bog bodies (ranking right up there with Denmark's Tollund Man and England's Lindow Man). Discovered in the Netherlands' Bourtangermoor, Yde Girl has been well-studied by the Dutch archaeologist W.A.B. van der Sanden. These findings have revealed a great deal of information about her, her life, and her death some 2000 years ago.

Yde Girl, as displayed at the Drents MuseumShe was strangled by a woolen waistband (or belt) which had been slip-knotted and wrapped around her neck three times. Peatcutters using a scoop to dredge peat from the bog in 1897 were so terrified to see her body that they ran away. Her red hair caused them to think that they had come face-to-face with the devil.

Her discovery and recovery were handled poorly. Apparently interested in science, the mayor made some notes.  He also dredged more parts of Yde Girl from the bog: one hand, one foot, and part of her pelvis. He noted that hair from half of her head had been shaved off. And he contacted the Drents Museum about the find. 

But the villagers had other ideas: they pulled her hair out and removed her teeth and most likely some of her bones. Fortunately, the museum was interested in preserving the girl (or what was left of her), including the cloak that was also found with her. 

A CT scan suggested that she was 16 years old when she died (her wisdom teeth had neither formed roots nor erupted). The scan also revealed that she had scoliosis or curvature of the spine; she was a little more than 4.5 feet tall. Part of her right foot appeared swollen, as if she placed most of her body weight on that side. Scientists have speculated whether this abnormality had any impact on the cause of her death. Carbon-14 dating suggests that she died in the first century A.D.

Fortunately, scientists hired a medical artist to reconstruct her face. This gives us an idea of what she looked like near the time of her death and brings her back to life, so to speak.

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Her Facial Reconstruction

The face of Yde Girl was reconstructed by medical artist Richard Neave in 1992. Facial Reconstruction of Yde GirlThe task was daunting, because the body had been found 100 years earlier and had dried out so much that it was half its original size. The medical artist would have to rely on others to help him recreate the face.

First, the pathologist took another look at Yde Girl and discovered a small stab wound at the base of her throat. Apparently she had been stabbed at the time she was strangled. Because of the peaceful look her face and the lack of defensive wounds on her one hand (the other was not recovered), the pathologist speculated that she may have killed while she was unconscious (in other words, she may have been drugged).

Then, information from the CT scan was used to create an image of her skull--as it originally would have appeared. From this information, Richard Neave prepared a polystyrene skull. Muscle structures were added. Finally, a wax head was prepared. Yde Girl with her blue eyes and high forehead was reborn. Considering the indignity of her discovery in 1897, the reconstruction was the least that could have been done. It also makes her appear to be a real person, not like the monster that was discovered over 100 years ago.

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The Drents Museum (located in Assen, the Netherlands) displays Yde Girl and many other bog items.

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Other Recommended Books on Amazon.com

Glob's Classic Book

The Bog People: Iron Age Man Preserved by P.V.Glob

Updates Glob's Book

Bog Bodies Uncovered: Solving Europe's Ancient Mystery by Aldhouse-Green

The Best Scientific Book

Through nature to eternity: The bog bodies of northwest Europe by W.A.B. Van der Sanden

A Literary, Cultural Look

Bodies in the Bog and the Archaeological Imagination by Karin Sanders