Home / Archaeology / Exhibitions / Current Exhibitions / Kingship and Sacrifice

Kingship and Sacrifice

An exhibition of Iron Age bog bodies & their sacrificial regalia and how it is related to sovereignty and kingship rituals during the Iron Age.


Following the discoveries of Iron Age bog bodies at Oldcroghan, Co. Offaly and Clonycavan, Co. Meath in 2003, a team of international specialists worked with the Irish Antiquities Division and Conservation Department to examine these human remains. Kingship and Sacrifice gives an overview of the results of the analysis and, along with other bog bodies from Museum collections, offers an opportunity to literally come ‘face to face’ with the past.

The exhibition is based around the theory that human sacrifice and the deposition of the victims in bogs along tribal boundaries is related to sovereignty and kingship rituals during the Iron Age. Other related material displayed includes items of royal regalia, horse trappings, weapons, feasting utensils, boundary markers and votive deposits of butter known as bog butter.

The exhibition provides a general overview of the analyses and their significance in addition to placing the finds in a broader European context. Information is provided about Iron Age bog bodies found in Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and England.

Also featured are two other Irish bog bodies from the National Museum of Ireland collections - Gallagh Man, Co. Galway and Baronstown West Man, Co. Kildare. The archaeological significance of the bog bodies is presented and explored throughout the exhibition.

Also included in the exhibition is a replica of a silver cauldron from a Danish bog. Known as the Gundestrup Cauldron, it shows images of Celtic deities as well as scenes of kingship and sovereignty ritual, including human sacrifice.

Location: Ground Floor, National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.   

New Theory of Sacrifice

New Theory of Sacrifice

Read about the theory connecting human sacrifice with sovereignty and kingship rituals during the Iron Age.

Cashel Man

Cashel Man

Learn more about the discovery and origins of Cashel Man - Ireland's oldest Bog Body.

Bog Bodies Research Project

Bog Bodies Research Project

Read about the Bog Bodies Research Project at the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology.