Amazing 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 years.

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 at Macclesfield.

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.