life and death of Lindow Man
Cheshire's 2,500-year-old body from the bog
Lindow Man, Cheshire’s 2,500-year-old body from the bog, went on
show for the first time in July, 1986, at the British Museum. The
Bog Man was discovered two years earlier encased in peat on Lindow
Moss, near Wilmslow, and scientists say he lived about 50O BC.
They have been able to piece together how he met a violent death,
his age, the type of life he lived, and even what he ate at his
last meal. Visitors to the exhibition, 'Archaeology in Britain',
were able to meet Lindow Man face to face.
The lower half of his body was missing, he had no eyes and his upturned
nose was damaged. One or two bones protruded from the skin, and
the face was distorted, sagging on the left side like that of a
man after a serious stroke. For all that he was uncannily human.
The close-cropped hair extends through trim sideburns to a short
moustache and beard. The exposed ear is rather shrivelled and his
hands have decayed, but his fingernails remain. "He has come to
us as if through a time-warp," said one eminent archaeologist.
The amazing Lindow Man may have died as a sacrificial killing in
a gruesome Celtic rights' ceremony. Apart from an armband of fox
fur he was naked when they killed him. The last he ever saw was
a hammer rushing to his head and then, unconscious, he was strangled
or garrotted. Finally they drove a blade into the front of his neck,
piercing the jugular vein.
His body was dumped in a shallow pool on Lindow Moss and lay undiscovered
but preserved, by the pickling effect of layers of peat, for 2,500
His last meal was a loaf made of wheat, rye, barley, oats and other
plant ingredients, partly burned and swallowed with some mistletoe
pollen. Archaeologists claim the burning of the loaf suggests a
sacrificial ritual, and so does the threefold method of killing.
The presence of mistletoe, pregnant with Druidic magic, may also
have been significant and indicates a time in spring. Lindow Man
was possibly sacrificed at the Celtic May Day festival to ensure
the fertility of crops, say the experts.
Exhaustive tests show he was aged about 25, fairly fit and his teeth
were in good condition. He had a well trimmed moustache, a good
head of hair and beard, and his fingernails were manicured, suggesting
Lindow Man may have been a nobleman, or at least held high office.
The body was discovered, quite by accident, on August 1, 1984 where
peat was being excavated from Lindow Moss. Two men, Andy Mould and
Eddie Slack, were working on an elevator carrying peat to a shredding
mill and suddenly spotted a foot with a long strip of skin attached.
The police and Miss Rachel Pugh, a reporter from the local newspaper,
the Wilmslow World, were alerted. The reporter immediately realised
there was more significance to the find than even the police realised,
and contact Cheshire's county archaeologist, Rick Turner.
Over the next
few days and with great care effort, a large block of peat from
which the skin protruded was cut out and removed to the mortuary
There the peat was picked away and slowly the top half of a human
body emerged, but police quickly lost interest when the Atomic Energy
Research Establishment at Harwell proved the remains were at least
1,000 years old. Lindow Man was released to the British Museum where
an advanced method of freezer drying was used to dehydrate him.
Through months of scrutiny, analysis and processing scientists were
able to bring his past to life and recreate those final moments
of his gruesome death.
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