Mid-1st century AD, Cheshire, England
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The body of this man was discovered in August 1984 when workmen were cutting peat at Lindow Moss bog in north west England.
It was carefully transported to the British Museum and thoroughly examined by a team of scientists. Their research has allowed us to learn more about this person – his health, his appearance and how he might have died – than any other prehistoric person found in Britain.
The conditions in the peat bog meant that the man’s skin, hair and many of his internal organs are well preserved. Radiocarbon dating shows that he died between 2 BC and AD 119. He was about 25 years of age, around 168 cm tall and weighed 60-65 kg. He had probably done very little hard, manual work, because his finger nails were well manicured. His beard and moustache had been cut by a pair of shears. There is no evidence that he was unwell when he died, but he was suffering from parasitic worms. His last meal probably included unleavened bread made from wheat and barley, cooked over a fire on which heather had been burnt.
The man met a horrific death. He was struck on the top of his head twice with a heavy object, perhaps a narrow bladed axe. He also received a vicious blow in the back – perhaps from someone’s knee – which broke one of his ribs. He had a thin cord tied around his neck which may have been used to strangle him and break his neck. By now he was dead, but then his throat was cut. Finally, he was placed face down in a pool in the bog. This elaborate sequence of events suggests that his death may have been ritual killing. Some people have argued that he was the victim of a human sacrifice possibly carried out by Druids.
Lindow Man’s official name is Lindow II, since other human remains have also been found in Lindow Moss bog: a human skull, known as Lindow I, a fragmented headless body (Lindow III) and the upper thigh of an adult male (Lindow IV) which as it was found close to Lindow Man may be the remains of his missing leg.
Studying Lindow Man
Lindow Man was preserved in a peat bog in Cheshire, where the acidic, oxygen-free conditions slowed down the rate at which the body decayed.