Mosses are single celled plants that can be found in damp or shaded locations. They Produce spores rather than seeds or flowers and don’t have roots. They evolved with lichen and liverworts into some of the first plants that inhabited the earth. There are about 12,000 varieties which are classified into Bryophyta. Commercially used in gardens and as insulation, they can amazingly act like sponges, able to absorb liquid up to 25 times their weight. Mosses require high levels of moisture because of not having a vascular system and because of their structure there are hardly any fossils of moss. Not having any roots they are able to survive in places where they have no competition, such as pavement cracks and roofs. They are essential to other plants as they breakdown substrata that releases essential nutrients that other plants feed on and help to prevent soil erosion.

Peat moss covers 10% of the land in Norway and Russia and 13% in Canada, gardeners curse that moss tends to strangle the life out of grass, but there is increasing proof that it is essential to our environment, providing a 1/3 of the carbon on the planet.

“No plant genus is more important as a carbon balance on Earth than peat mosses. Peat stores at least a third of all the carbon on land,” says Professor Hans K. Stenøien at the NTNU University Museum in Trondheim, Norway. A high percentage of peat mosses are found in permafrost forests, where the ground is covered in snow, nearly all year round. If the planet continues to warm up the moss will be exposed and will release more carbon and methane into the atmosphere.”

The acidic nature of peat bogs, means they have a unique ability to preserve. The first bog mummy was excavated in Denmark in 1898, a male body was pulled out of the bog perfectly preserved and dating from the 1099AD and was nicknamed “Frederiksdal Man or Kragelund Man”. Read more about the process here. The preservation of the mummies has provided a valuable insight into the lives and deaths of the bog men. Details such as their diet and what injuries they have sustained throughout their lives and whether they were sacrificed, can be attained. Cashel man was found in Ireland and dates from 2000BC and was believed to be sacrificed. Evidence for this being a defensive wound to his arm. He was purposely buried in the peat and may have been the king of the region as, the king was often blamed after a poor harvest and was then sacrificed.

Writing Prompt
You are a King or Queen from the period 2000 BC, the crops are failing and you are being blamed. You live in bog land and there are few safe routes out. Do you stay and try to keep your position or try to flee across the treacherous bogs? Free write(15-20 minutes).

You are an archaeologist in Denmark on the turn of the century and have uncovered a bog man. You feel that they are trying to send you an important message from the future. Free write(15-20 minutes).

Write a poem about moss and bog lands and the mysteries that they hold/ or the King and Queen of the Moss.(15-20 minutes)

Happy Writing!


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