Lindow man
Lindow Man, also known as Lindow II and (in jest) as Pete Marsh, is the preserved bog body
Bog body
Bog bodies, which are also known as bog people, are the naturally preserved human corpses found in the sphagnum bogs in Northern Europe. Unlike most ancient human remains, bog bodies have retained their skin and internal organs due to the unusual conditions of the surrounding area...

 of a man discovered in a peat
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter or histosol. Peat forms in wetland bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests. Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world...

A bog, quagmire or mire is a wetland that accumulates acidic peat, a deposit of dead plant material—often mosses or, in Arctic climates, lichens....

 at Lindow Moss
Lindow Moss
Lindow Moss, also known as Saltersley Common, is a raised mire peat bog on the edge of Wilmslow in Cheshire, England. It has been used as common land since the medieval period....

 near Wilmslow
-Economy:Wilmslow is well known, like Alderley Edge, for having many famous residents, notably footballers, stars of Coronation Street and rich North West businessmen. The town is part of the so-called Golden Triangle in the north west together with Alderley Edge and Prestbury...

 in Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

, North West England
North West England
North West England, informally known as The North West, is one of the nine official regions of England.North West England had a 2006 estimated population of 6,853,201 the third most populated region after London and the South East...

. The body was found on 1 August 1984 by commercial peat-cutters. Lindow Man is not the only bog body to have been found in the moss; Lindow Woman
Lindow Woman
Lindow Woman, also known as Lindow I, is the name given to the partial remains of a female bog body, discovered in a peat bog at Lindow Moss, near Wilmslow, northwest England, on 13 May 1983 by commercial peat-cutters. The remains were a skull fragment, with soft tissue and hair attached.Police...

 was discovered the year before, and other body parts have also been recovered. The find, described as "one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 1980s", caused a media sensation. It helped invigorate study of British bog bodies, which had previously been neglected in comparison to those found in the rest of Europe.

At the time of death, Lindow Man was a healthy male in his mid-20s, and he may have been someone of high status, as his body shows little evidence of heavy or rough work. There has been debate over the reason for Lindow Man's death, for the nature of his demise was violent, perhaps ritualistic; after a last meal of charred bread, Lindow Man was strangled, hit on the head, and his throat cut. Dating the body has proven problematic, but it is thought that Lindow Man was deposited into Lindow Moss, face down, some time between 2 BC and 119 AD, in either the Iron Age
British Iron Age
The British Iron Age is a conventional name used in the archaeology of Great Britain, referring to the prehistoric and protohistoric phases of the Iron-Age culture of the main island and the smaller islands, typically excluding prehistoric Ireland, and which had an independent Iron Age culture of...

 or Romano-British
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 period. The body has been preserved by freeze-drying and is on permanent display at the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

, although it occasionally travels to other venues such as Manchester Museum
Manchester Museum
The Manchester Museum is owned by the University of Manchester. Sited on Oxford Road at the heart of the university's group of neo-Gothic buildings, it provides access to about six million items from every continent and serves both as a resource for academic research and teaching and as a regional...


Lindow Moss

Lindow Moss (53.322474°N 2.269928°W) is a peat bog in Mobberley
Mobberley is a semi-rural village and civil parish in the unitary authority of Cheshire East and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, situated between Wilmslow and Knutsford. Mobberley railway station lies on the Manchester to Northwich and Chester line and was opened on 12 May, 1862 by the Cheshire...

, Cheshire, which has been used as common land
Common land
Common land is land owned collectively or by one person, but over which other people have certain traditional rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect firewood, or to cut turf for fuel...

 since the medieval period. It formed after the last ice age, one of many such peat bogs in north-east Cheshire and the Mersey basin
River Mersey
The River Mersey is a river in North West England. It is around long, stretching from Stockport, Greater Manchester, and ending at Liverpool Bay, Merseyside. For centuries, it formed part of the ancient county divide between Lancashire and Cheshire....

 that formed in hollows caused by melting ice. Investigations have not yet discovered settlement or agricultural activity around the edge of Lindow Moss that would have been contemporary with Lindow Man; however, analysis of pollen in the peat suggests there was some cultivation in the vicinity. Once covering over 600 hectares (1,482.6 acre), the bog has now shrunk to a tenth of its original size. It is a dangerous place; an 18th-century writer recorded people drowning there. For centuries the peat from the bog was used as fuel, and it continued to be extracted until the 1980s, by which time the process had been mechanised. Lindow Moss is a lowland raised mire; this type of peat bog often produces the best preserved bog bodies, allowing more detailed analysis. Lowland raised mires occur mainly in northern England and extend south to the Midlands. Lindow Man is one of 27 bodies to be recovered from such areas.

Lindow Woman

On 13 May 1983, two peat workers at Lindow Moss, Andy Mould and Stephen Dooley, noticed an unusual object—about the size of a football—on the elevator taking peat to the shredding machine. They removed the object for closer inspection, joking that it was a dinosaur egg. Once the peat had been removed, their discovery turned out to be a decomposing, incomplete human head with one eye and some hair intact. Forensics identified the skull as belonging to a European woman, probably aged 30–50. Police initially thought the skull was that of Malika Reyn-Bardt, who had disappeared in 1960 and was the subject of an ongoing investigation. While in prison on another charge, her husband, Peter Reyn-Bardt, had boasted that he had killed his wife and buried her in the back garden of their bungalow, which was on the edge of the area of mossland where peat was being dug. The garden was examined but no body was recovered there. When Reyn-Bardt was confronted with the discovery of the skull from Lindow Moss, he confessed to the murder of his wife. It was later radiocarbon dated
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

, revealing it to be nearly 2,000 years old. "Lindow Woman", as it became known, dated from around 210 AD. This emerged shortly before Reyn-Bardt went to trial, but he was convicted on the evidence of his confession.


A year later a further macabre discovery was made at Lindow Moss, just 820 feet (249.9 m) south-west of the Lindow Woman. On 1 August 1984, Andy Mould, who had been involved in the discovery of Lindow Woman, took what he thought was a piece of wood off the elevator of the peat-shredding machine. He threw the object at Eddie Slack, his workmate. When it hit the ground, peat fell off the object and revealed it to be a human foot. The police were called and the foot was taken away for examination. Rick Turner, the Cheshire County Archaeologist
County Archaeologist
A County Archaeologist is a local government employee in the United Kingdom with responsibility for overseeing development-led archaeological investigations required by PPG16...

, was notified of the discovery and succeeded in finding the rest of the body, which later became known as Lindow Man. Some skin had been exposed and had started to decay, so to prevent further deterioration of the body, it was re-covered with peat. The complete excavation of the block containing the remains was performed on 6 August. Until it could be dated, it was moved to the Macclesfield District Council Hospital for storage. As the body of Malika Reyn-Bardt had still not been found, it was thought possible the body might be hers, until it was determined to be male, and radiocarbon dated. The owners of the land on which Lindow Man was found donated the body to the British Museum, and on 21 August it was transported to London.

At the time, the body was dubbed "Pete Marsh" (a pun on "peat marsh") by Middlesex Hospital radiologists, a name subsequently adopted by local journalists. As the best preserved bog body found in Britain, its discovery caused a media sensation. It was hailed as one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 1980s. The find was announced to the press during the second week of investigation. A Q.E.D.
Q.E.D. (BBC TV series)
Q.E.D. was the name of a strand of BBC popular science documentary films which aired in the United Kingdom from 1982 to 1999.-Format:...

 documentary about Lindow Man broadcast by the BBC in 1985 attracted 10 million viewers.

Lindow Man's official name is Lindow II, as there are other finds from the area: Lindow I (Lindow Woman) refers to a human skull, Lindow III to a "fragmented headless body", and Lindow IV to the upper thigh of an adult male, possibly that of Lindow Man. After the discovery of Lindow Man, there were no further archaeological excavations at Lindow Moss until 1987. A large piece of skin was found by workmen on the elevator on 6 February 1987. On this occasion, the police left the investigation to the archaeologists. Over 70 pieces were found, constituting Lindow III. Although the bone was not as well preserved as that of Lindow Man, the other tissues survived in better condition. The final discovery was that of Lindow IV on 14 June 1988. Part of a left leg and buttocks were found on the elevator, from a site just 50 feet (15.2 m) west of where Lindow Man was found. Nearly three months later, on 12 September, a right thigh was discovered in the peat on the bucket of a digger. The close proximity of the discovery sites, coupled with the fact that the remains were shown to come from an adult male, means that Lindow IV is probably part of Lindow Man.

Remains and investigation

The discovery of Lindow Man marked the first well-preserved bog body discovered in Britain; its condition was comparable to that of Grauballe Man
Grauballe Man
The Grauballe Man is a bog body that was uncovered in 1952 from a peat bog near to the village of Grauballe in Jutland, Denmark. The body itself is that of an adult male dating from the late 3rd century BC, during the early Iron Age, and he had been killed by having his throat slit open...

 and Tollund Man
Tollund Man
The Tollund Man is the naturally mummified corpse of a man who lived during the 4th century BC, during the time period characterised in Scandinavia as the Pre-Roman Iron Age. He was found in 1950 buried in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, which preserved his body. Such a find is...

 from Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. Before Lindow Man, it was estimated that 41 bog bodies had been found in England and Wales and 15 in Scotland. Encouraged by the discovery of Lindow Man, a gazetteer was compiled and revealed a far higher number of bog bodies: over 85 in England and Wales and over 36 in Scotland. Prior to the discovery of the bodies in Lindow Moss, British bog bodies had been a relatively neglected subject compared to European examples. The interest caused by Lindow Man led to more in-depth research of accounts of discoveries in bogs since the 17th century; by 1995, the numbers had changed to 106 in England and Wales and 34 in Scotland. The remains covered a large time frame.

In life, Lindow Man would have measured between 5'6" and 5'8" (1.68 and 1.73 m) tall and weighed about 132 pounds (59.9 kg). It was possible to ascertain that his age at death was around the mid-20s. The body retains a trimmed beard, moustache, and sideburns of brown hair, as well as healthy teeth with no visible cavities, and manicured fingernails, indicating he did little heavy or rough work. Apart from a fox-fur armband, Lindow Man was discovered completely naked. When he died, Lindow Man was suffering from slight osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease, is a group of mechanical abnormalities involving degradation of joints, including articular cartilage and subchondral bone. Symptoms may include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, locking, and sometimes an effusion...

 and an infestation of whipworm
The human tapworm is a roundworm, which causes trichuriasis when it infects a human large intestine. The name whipworm refers to the shape of the worm; they look like whips with wider "handles" at the posterior end.-Life cycle:The female T. trichiura produces 2,000–10,000 single celled eggs per day...

 and maw worm
Ascaris lumbricoides
Ascaris lumbricoides is the giant roundworm of humans, belonging to the phylum Nematoda. An ascarid nematode, it is responsible for the disease ascariasis in humans, and it is the largest and most common parasitic worm in humans. One-sixth of the human population is estimated to be infected by this...

. As a result of decalcification of the bones and pressure from the peat Lindow Man was buried under, his skull was distorted. While some preserved human remains may contain DNA, peat bogs such as Lindow Moss are generally poor for such a purpose, and it is unlikely that DNA could be recovered from Lindow Man.

Lindow Man and Lindow III were found to have elevated levels of copper on their skin. The cause for this was uncertain as there could have been natural causes, although a study by Pyatt et al proposed that the bodies may have been painted with a copper-based pigment. To test this, skin samples were taken from places likely to be painted and tested against samples from areas where painting was unlikely. It was found that the copper content of the skin of the torso was higher than the control areas, suggesting that the theory of Pyatt et al may have been correct. However, the conclusion was ambiguous as the overall content was above that expected of a male, and variations across the body may have been due to environmental factors. Similarly, green deposits were found in the hair, originally thought to be a copper-based pigment used for decoration, however it was later found to be the result of a reaction between the keratin
Keratin refers to a family of fibrous structural proteins. Keratin is the key of structural material making up the outer layer of human skin. It is also the key structural component of hair and nails...

 in the hair and the acid of the peat bog.
Dating Lindow Man is problematic as samples from the body and surrounding peat have produced dates spanning a 900-year period. Although the peat encasing Lindow Man has been radiocarbon dated
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

 to about 300 BC, Lindow Man himself has a different date. Early tests at different laboratories returned conflicting dates for the body; later tests suggested a date between 2 BC and 119 AD. There has been a tendency to ascribe the body to the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 period rather than Roman due to the interpretation that Lindow Man's death may have been a ritual sacrifice or execution. Explanations for why the peat in which he was found is much older have been sought. Archaeologist P. C. Buckland suggests that as the stratigraphy of the peat appears undisturbed, Lindow Man may have been deposited into a pool which was some 300 years old at the time. Geographer K. E. Barber has argued against this hypothesis, saying that pools at Lindow Moss would have been too shallow, and suggests that the peat may have been peeled back to allow the burial and then replaced, leaving the stratigraphy apparently undisturbed.

Lindow Man's last meal was preserved in his stomach and intestines and was analysed in some detail. It was hoped that investigations into the contents of the stomach would shed light on the contemporary diet, as was the case with Grauballe Man and Tollund Man in the 1950s. The analysis of the contents of the digestive system of bog bodies had become one of the principal endeavours of investigating such remains. Analysis of the grains present revealed his diet to be mostly of cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

s. He probably ate slightly charred bread, although the burning may have had ritual significance rather than being an accident. Some mistletoe
Mistletoe is the common name for obligate hemi-parasitic plants in several families in the order Santalales. The plants in question grow attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub.-Mistletoe in the genus Viscum:...

 pollen was also found in the stomach, indicating that Lindow Man died in around March or April. One of the conclusions of the study was that the people buried in Lindow Moss may have had a less varied diet than their European counterparts. According to Jody Joy, curator of the Iron Age collection at the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

, the importance of Lindow Man lies more in how he lived rather than how he died, as the circumstances surrounding his demise may never be fully established.


As the peat was cleaned off the body in the laboratory, it became clear that Lindow Man had suffered a violent death. The injuries included a V-shaped, 3.5 centimetres (1.4 in) cut on top of his head; a possible laceration at the back of the head; ligature marks on the neck where a sinew cord was found; a possible wound on the right side of the neck; a possible stab wound in the upper right chest; a broken neck; and a fractured rib. Xeroradiography
Xeroradiography is a type of x-ray in which a picture of the body is recorded on paper rather than on film. In this technique, a plate of selenium, which rests on a thin layer of aluminium oxide, is charged uniformly by passing it in front of a ....

 revealed the blow on top of the head (causing the V-shaped cut) was caused by a relatively blunt object; it had fractured the skull and driven fragments into the brain. Swelling along the edges of the wound indicated Lindow Man had lived after being struck. The blow, possibly from a small axe, would have caused unconsciousness but Lindow Man could have survived for several hours afterwards. The ligature marks on the neck were caused by the tightening of the sinew cord found around his neck, possibly a garrotte or necklace.

In the case of some injuries, such as the laceration on the back of the skull, it is not possible to confirm whether they took place before or after death due to the body's state of decay. This is also the case for the wound in the upper right chest. The cut on the right of the neck may have been the result of the body becoming bloated, causing the skin to split; however, the straight edges to the wound suggest it may have been caused by a sharp instrument such as a knife. The ligature marks on the neck may have occurred after death. In some interpretations of Lindow Man's death, the sinew is a garrotte used to break Lindow Man's neck. However, Robert Connolly, a lecturer in physical anthropology, suggests that the sinew may have been ornamental and that ligature marks may have been caused by the body swelling when submerged. The rib fracture may also have occurred after death, perhaps during the discovery of the body, but is included in some narratives of Lindow Man's death. The broken neck would have proven the fatal injury, whether caused by the sinew cord around Lindow Man's neck tightening or by blows to the back of the head. After death, Lindow Man was deposited into Lindow Moss face down.


German scientist Alfred Dieck
Alfred Dieck
Alfred Dieck was a German archaeologist internationally recognised for the scientific studies on bog bodies and bog finds...

 estimated that there were over 1,860 known bog bodies in Europe. Archaeologist Don Brothwell
Don Brothwell
Recognised for his work in both human and animal paleopathology, Don Brothwell has interests in the broad field of the archaeological sciences, but particularly in human palaeoecology...

 considers that many of the older bodies need re-examining with modern techniques, such as those used in the analysis of Lindow Man. The study of bog bodies, including these found in Lindow Moss, have contributed to a wider understanding of well-preserved human remains, helping to develop new methods in analysis and investigation. The use of sophisticated techniques such as computer tomography (CT) scans has marked the investigation of the Lindow bodies as particularly important. Such scans allow the reconstruction of the body and internal examination. Of the 27 bodies recovered from lowland raised mires in England and Wales, only those from Lindow Moss and the remains of Worsley Man have survived, together with a shoe from another body. The remains have a date range from the early 1st to the 4th centuries. Investigation into the other bodies relies on contemporary descriptions of the discovery.

The physical evidence allows a general reconstruction of how Lindow Man was killed, although some details are debated, but it does not explain why he was killed. In North West England, there is little evidence for religious or ritual activity in the Iron Age period. What evidence does survive is usually in the form of artefacts recovered from peat bogs. Late Iron Age burials in the region often took the form of a crouched inhumation, sometimes with personal ornaments. Although dated to the mid-1st century AD, the type of burial of Lindow Man was more common in the pre-historic period. In the later half of the 20th century, it was a common assumption that bog bodies demonstrating injuries to the neck or head area were ritualistic in nature. Bog bodies were associated with Germanic and Celtic cultures, specifically relating to head worship.

According to Brothwell, it is one of the most complex examples of "overkill
Overkill is the use of excessive force or action that goes further than is necessary to achieve its goal.-Nuclear weapons:Overkill is especially used to refer to a destructive nuclear capacity exceeding the amount needed to destroy an enemy...

" in a bog body, and possibly has ritual meaning as it was "extravagant" for a straightforward murder. Archaeologists John Hodgson and Mark Brennand suggest that bog bodies may have been related to religious practice, although there is division in the academic community over this issue and in the case of Lindow Man, whether the killing was murder or ritualistic is still debated. Anne Ross, an expert on Iron Age religion, proposed that the death was an example of human sacrifice and that the "triple death
Threefold death
The threefold death, which is suffered by kings, heroes, and gods, is a putatively Proto-Indo-European theme – although it is attested in medieval accounts of Celtic and Germanic mythology....

" (throat cut, strangled, and hit on the head) was an offering to several different gods. The wide date range for Lindow Man's death (2 BC to 119 AD) means he may have met his demise after the Romans conquered northern England in the 60s AD. As the Romans outlawed human sacrifice, this opens up other possibilities; this was emphasised by historian Ronald Hutton, who challenged the interpretation of sacrificial death. Connolly suggests that as Lindow Man was found naked, he could have been the victim of a violent robbery. Joy said, "The jury really is still out on these bodies, whether they were aristocrats, priests, criminals, outsiders, whether they went willingly to their deaths or whether they were executed – but Lindow was a very remote place in those days, an unlikely place for an ambush or a murder".


It was feared that once Lindow Man was removed from the peat which had preserved him for nearly 2,000 years, the body would start to decay. Steps were thus taken to ensure the survival of the remains. After rejecting methods used to preserve other bog bodies, such as the "pit-tanning" used on Grauballe Man which took a year and a half, freeze-drying was settled on. In preparation, the body was covered in a solution of 15% polyethylene glycol 400
PEG 400
PEG 400 is a low-molecular-weight grade of polyethylene glycol. It is a clear, colorless, viscous liquid. Due in part to its low toxicity, PEG 400 is widely used in a variety of pharmaceutical formulations. More recently, it has been used to make "E-Liquid" for Electronic Cigarettes .-Chemical...

 and 85% water to prevent it from becoming distorted. The body was then frozen solid and the ice vaporised to ensure Lindow Man did not shrink. Afterwards, Lindow Man was put in a specially constructed display case to control the environment
HVAC refers to technology of indoor or automotive environmental comfort. HVAC system design is a major subdiscipline of mechanical engineering, based on the principles of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer...

 and carefully maintain the temperature at 20 °C (68 °F) and the humidity at 55%. Lindow Man's permanent home is at the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

, although before the remains were taken there, people from North West England launched an unsuccessful campaign lobbying for the body to be kept in Manchester. He has been on temporary display in other venues: at the Manchester Museum
Manchester Museum
The Manchester Museum is owned by the University of Manchester. Sited on Oxford Road at the heart of the university's group of neo-Gothic buildings, it provides access to about six million items from every continent and serves both as a resource for academic research and teaching and as a regional...

 on three occasions, April to , March to , and to ; and at the Great North Museum
Great North Museum
The Great North Museum is a visitor attraction in Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England. It features two venues: the Great North Museum: Hancock and the Hatton Gallery...

 in Newcastle from August to . The 2008–09 Manchester display, titled "Lindow Man: A Bog Body Mystery Exhibition at the Manchester Museum", won the category "Best Archaeological Innovation" in the 2010 British Archaeological Awards, run by the Council for British Archaeology
Council for British Archaeology
Established in 1944, the is an educational charity working throughout the UK to involve people in archaeology and to promote the appreciation and care of the historic environment for the benefit of present and future generations...

. There has been controversy over the display of the remains: the body of Lindow Man has usually been objectified rather than treated as a person, leading some people, such as neo-druid
Neo-Druidism or Neo-Druidry, commonly referred to as Druidism or Druidry by its adherents, is a form of modern spirituality or religion that generally promotes harmony and worship of nature, and respect for all beings, including the environment...

 Emma Restall Orr
Emma Restall Orr
Emma Restall Orr is a British neo-druid, animist, priest, poet and author . She worked for the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids in the early 1990s, becoming an Ovate tutor. In 1993 she became joint chief of the British Druid Order staying until 2002...

, to question whether the body should be displayed. This is part of a wider issue about the treatment of human remains and their use as information sources by museums and archaeologists.

External links

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