The Family from Borum Eshøj are a group of three mummies found in a barrow near Borum, Denmark. In 1871 parts of the mound were being removed and the first grave was found. In it lay the body of an elderly woman. During a more extensive excavation in 1875 two coffins were found containing the remains of two men. Encased in oak-wood coffins dating to the Bronze Age,they are believed to be a family unit. They are now housed in the National Museum of Denmark, alongside the coffins and artifacts buried with them.
The older man and woman appeared to have lived into their 50s or 60s, while the young man was in his early 20s. The remaining tissue on the woman contained muscle, indicating she participated in hard labour during her life. Both the woman and young man were buried with many Bronze Age tools and the woman also wore bronze jewellery, indicating their wealth. The careful burial and artifacts left with them suggest the three mummies in Borum Eshøj were of a high class while alive.
The mummies were sealed in oak coffins which were deposited in typical Nordic burial mounds. The local conditions allowed for moderate preservation of the bodies, in a similar fashion to bog mummies. Unfortunately, the excavation and transport of the mummies has caused this preservation to deteriorate over the years.
The excavation of Borum Eshøj in 1875 was done alongside a study of the mound. A schematic of the mound was created, alongside drawings of the three mummies in their coffins, the artifacts they were buried with, and the clothes they wore.
Dendrochronological analyses of the oak wood used for the coffins established that the wood for at least two of the three coffins – and perhaps all three – was felled in 1351 BC.
Little research has gone into studying how these mummies died.
The Borum Eshøj barrow is the largest single find of this kind from Denmark.
Later studies found other human remains dating back to the late Bronze age. One of which was buried in a similar manner to the classic mummies, higher up in the mound. Others were burned, with their ashes and artifacts being stored in urns and put in the mound.
A sword scabbard was found buried with the young man, but contained a dagger. This suggests that the young man may have been cheated after death.
The National Museum of Denmark research page on Borum Eshøj: http://en.natmus.dk/historical-knowledge/denmark/prehistoric-period-until-1050-ad/the-bronze-age/the-family-from-borum-eshoej/a-small-family/
Frost, L., Løvschal, M., Lindegaard, M. R., & Holst, M. K. (2017). Borum Eshøj Revisited–Bronze Age monumental burial traditions in eastern Jutland, Denmark. Danish Journal of Archaeology, 1-19.
Nordic Bronze Age. (2017, Oct 19). Retrieved Nov 10, 2017 from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_Bronze_Age#Religion_and_cult
Rosborn, S. (Photographer). (2008, July 6) Borum Eshøj Man of the Nordic Bronze Age at National Museum of Copenhagen, Denmark [Digital Image]. Retrieved from Wikipedia Commons website: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Borum_Esh%C3%B8j#/media/File:Bronsalderslik.jpg
The family in Borum Eshøj. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.natmus.dk/historical-knowledge/denmark/prehistoric-period-until-1050-ad/the-bronze-age/the-family-from-borum-eshoej/