Borum Eshøj –The history

Watercolour painting of the situation during the excavation 1875 drawn by Magnus Pedersen (source: Nationalmuseet København)

Borum Eshøj is one of the largest Bronze Age mounds in Denmark. It was partly excavated in 1875 by the Danish National Museum to save it from destruction due to agricultural fieldwork.  The real reason for the excavation was, however, the previously discovered oak-log coffin of an “old woman”. During the excavation two further oak coffins were found. Although the original position of the “old woman´s” grave was unknown, it was possible to excavate the other graves in situ. Close to a stone construction with unknown purpose, next to the eastern border of the mound core, the excavator Conrad Engelhard found an oak coffin covered by stones containing the burial of the “young man”. The centre of the mound revealed an oak coffin, probably crafted at its deposition place due to some discovered wood remains, with an extraordinarily well preserved skeleton of the “old man”. All three oak coffins contained extremely well preserved Bronze Age clothing in addition to bronze and wooden objects. Several additional burials containing grave assemlages of varying richness were found both close to the centre of the mound and at its periphery.

Plan of the excavation from 1875 projected onto the situation today. This plan was first published in Boye 1896 and is projected onto the modern situation by Mads Holst

Further reading Borum Eshøj:

Boye, V. (1896). Fund af Egekister fra Bronzealderen i Danmark : et monografisk Bidrag til Belysning af Bronzealderens Kultur, Høst: Kbh. Excerpt: 49-64.

Christensen, K. (2006). ‘Dendrochronological Dating of Bronze Age Coffins from Denmark & Schleswig’. Acta Archaeologica, 77: 163-246. Excerpt: 193-195

Holst, M.K., Breuning-Madsen, H. & Rasmussen, M. (2001). ‘The South Scandinavian barrows with well-preserved oak-log coffins’. Antiquity, 75/287: 126-136.

Holst, M.K., Rasmussen, M. & Breuning-Madsen, H. (2004). ‘Skelhøj. Et bygningsværk fra den ældre bronzealder’. Nationalmuseets arbejdsmark, 2004: 11-25.


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