The Mysteries of the Egtved Girl: Denmark’s Amazingly Preserved Bronze Age Teenager

The Egtved Girl (c. 1390–1370 BC) was a Nordic Bronze Age girl whose well-preserved remains were discovered outside Egtved, Denmark in 1921. Aged 16–18 at death, she was slim, 1.6 metres (5 ft 3 in) tall, had short, blond hair and well-trimmed nails. Her burial has been dated by dendrochronology to 1370 BC.

The Egtved Girl is the name given to a well-preserved Nordic Bronze Age burial found in Denmark. She lived during 1390–1370 BC and her remains provide a glimpse into Nordic life during the late Nordic Bronze Age.


The Egtved Girl was discovered in 1921 within an oak coffin in a peat bog near Egtved, Denmark. She was likely 16-18 years old at the time of her death. Her coffin and remains were remarkably intact, allowing archaeologists to conduct thorough analyses.

Analysis of her teeth, bones, and hair indicate she was a slender girl, around 5 feet tall. Her hair was blonde, long and braided. She wore a short wool skirt with a tassel belt and a woolen bodice. Bronze earrings and a horn comb were also found, indicating she came from a higher social strata of Nordic society at that time.

The Egtved Girl’s burial has been precisely dated using dendrochronology on her coffin, as well as stratigraphic analysis of the peat bog where she was interred. Her remains provide key insights into Nordic fashions, diet, health and mobility during the Nordic Bronze Age. Isotopic analysis of her teeth indicate she was born and spent her early life outside of Denmark, likely southern Germany, then moved to the Egtved area as a teenager. This indicates migration and/or marriage patterns of the time.

Other findings from her burial give evidence of oxen and cow dairy farming, oats, barley and wheat cultivation, wool textile production, and active trading networks across Europe at the time. Her coffin also contained the cremated remains of a 5-6 year old child, whose relationship to her is unknown.

The excellent preservation and precise dating of Egtved Girl’s burial, along with advanced analysis methods, make her one of the most well-understood Bronze Age people in the world. She provides a direct connection to Nordic life during an era that later gave rise to Celtic culture, Vikings, and Norse mythology. The Egtved Girl continues to fascinate and educate us about Bronze Age society today, over 3000 years after her death.

In the coffin, the girl was wrapped in an ox hide. She wore a loose, short tunic with sleeves reaching the elbow. She had a bare waist and wore a short string skirt. She had bronze bracelets, and a woollen belt with a large disc decorated with spirals and a spike. At her feet were the cremated remains of a child aged 5 to 6. By her head there was a small birch bark box that contained an awl, bronze pins, and a hair net.
Before the coffin was closed she was covered with a blanket and an ox hide. Flowering yarrow (indicating a summer burial) and a bucket of beer made of wheat, honey, bog-myrtle and cowberries were placed atop. Her distinctive outfit, which caused a sensation when it was unearthed in the 1920s, is the best preserved example of a style now known to be common in northern Europe during the Bronze Age. The good preservation of the Egtved Girl’s outfit is due to the acidic bog conditions of the soil, which is a common condition of this locale.

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