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Lindow Man / Lindow II

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1984,1002.1

  • Title (object)

    • Lindow Man
    • Lindow II
  • Description

    Upper half of human male body, aged approximately 25 years at death. Found preserved in a bog. Hair and skin well-preserved. Remains of a fur armband around left arm and a garott of animal sinew around neck.
    A right leg (1984,1002.2) is also part of this body.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 2 BC - AD 119 (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 640 millimetres
    • Width: 630 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    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 and a fragmented headless body, Lindow III. Remains of the thigh of an adult man are known as Lindow IV, although since these were discovered only 15m away from Lindow Man they could be the remains of his missing leg.Lindow Man is a well-preserved human body found in a peat-bog at Lindow Moss, near Manchester, in 1984. He died a violent death, sustaining many injuries before he was placed face down in a pool in the bog.

    Lindow Man’s discovery triggered an unprecedented scientific investigation, which ultimately led to his display at the British Museum. Radiocarbon dating indicates that he was killed sometime between 2 BC – AD 119. This means that he was probably killed shortly before or after the Roman conquest of this part of Iron Age Britain in the early 60s AD. The Romans outlawed human sacrifice, but without a more precise date of death we cannot say for certain whether this was the most likely reason for him to be killed. Lindow Man could also have been the victim of a violent crime or an executed criminal.

    Why did Lindow Man last so long in the bog?
    He conditions in peat bogs mean that bog bodies such as Lindow Man have been well preserved. Bogs are cold, acidic places lacking in oxygen, which makes them hostile environments for micro-organisms that break bodies down. Sphagnum mosses that grow in bogs also help preserve bog bodies. When the mosses die, they release a sugary substance that acts as a tanning agent. This turns skin, tendons, ligaments and muscle into leather. It also turns skin brown and hair red.

    How has Lindow Man been conserved?
    Scientists at the British Museum had to find a suitable way of preserving Lindow Man. They wanted to prevent his remains from decaying after he had been removed from the bog. Lindow Man was first immersed in a solution of polyethylene glycol, a chemical that prevented the body shrinking when it dried out. He was then wrapped in cling film and frozen after which he was freeze-dried to remove water. This treatment successfully preserved his body and meant that it could be displayed.

    What do we know about Lindow Man?
    Lindow Man’s discovery led unprecedented scientific research. Naked except for a fox-fur armband, he was 1.73m tall and weighed 64kg. He was around 25 years old when he died. He was well groomed, with trimmed beard and filed fingernails. Just before he died he ate a flat, unleavened griddle cake baked over an open fire. Several grains of mistletoe pollen were also found in his stomach. It is not certain whether these were deliberately or accidentally ingested.

    How did Lindow Man die?
    Lindow Man sustained many injuries before being placed in the bog. Experts have debated their nature and extent. For example, the twisted sinew around his neck could have been used as a garrotte – or it may have just been a necklace. Other injuries included blows to the top and back of the head, a possible stab wound to the neck and a broken neck, which finally killed him.

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Stead et al 1986 bibliographic details
    • Turner & Scaife 1995 bibliographic details
    • Joy 2009 bibliographic details
    • James & Rigby 1997 pp.17-18, pl.14-15 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G50/dc26

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited: 2009 Aug-Nov, Newcastle, Great North Museum, Lindow Man 2008-2009 8 Apr-Apr, Manchester Museum, Lindow Man 1991 25 Mar-21 Sep, Manchester Museum, Lindow Man

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1984

  • Acquisition notes

    Found in Lindow Moss bog during peat-cutting in 1984.

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1984,1002.1


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Object reference number: BCB12909

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