Historical knowledge

Grave robberies

The deceased in the oak-coffin graves have been carefully laid to rest. The body and the grave goods are arranged with great consideration and a mound has been built over them. But the rules for this care of the dead were sometimes broken. We know of cases where grave robbers dug their way into the barrows and broke into the coffins, removing any of the grave goods they could get their hands on. Often these grave robberies have taken place within the past couple of centuries, but they also took place in prehistory. The grave robberies of prehistory could be simple thefts. Another possibility, however, is that the robbers wanted to destroy the soul and status of the dead or perhaps stop his or her journey to the kingdom of the dead. This could be done by removing grave goods and desecrating the grave.

The coffin from Guldhøj, near Vamdrup was also plundered in the prehistoric period. Luckily the thieves left behind many fine objects that are preserved today. You can read more about the Guldhøj find here.

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