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Tollund Man: Story of a ‘Bog Body’ That Gave us Much Information About the Iron Age

BY Surabhi Verma July 12, 2018
Preserved head of bog body Tollund Man

The incredibly well-preserved head of bog body Tollund Man. (Sven Rosborn / Wikimedia Commons)

It was in 1950 when John along with his family, discovered the corpse of a mummified man. John later explained that his mother witnessed something unusual inside a peat. On further investigation, the body was finally discovered, and the local authorities were informed about it. At first, it was assumed that the body was of a murdered victim. Since a schoolboy in the nearby area had gone missing.

However, as time passed by, the tale of the mummified man became a popular folklore. The corpse has since then been named the Tollund Man. However, there was something very striking about the corpse that attracted the attention of a large number of researchers. This was not a normal looking corpse.

Undisturbed body of Tollund man

The undisturbed body of Tollund man shortly after being discovered. (Nationalmuseet / Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers have revealed that the man lived around 4th century BC, a period which is now known to be the Pre-Roman Iron Age, particularly in Scandinavia. The Tollund Man was discovered in a peat bog where he was buried, hence also referred as the bog body. Strikingly, his body didn’t turn into a skeleton. It was in fact very well naturally preserved.

The bog body was naked and only had a leather belt tied to his waist. The belt was made using Oxhide and one of the ends of the belt was marked with a cut. Through this cut, the remaining belt end had been tied in the form of a loop.

Astonishingly, a different bog body named Elling Woman was discovered 12 years earlier. She was dressed in a cloak that was made up of pelt and was believed to be a victim of human sacrifice. Both the bodies were discovered from the same wetlands.

Over the years, hundreds of bog bodies have since been discovered. Those bodies were either dressed or were found naked, with clothes placed by their side. Pieces of sheep or ox leather were the most commonly found cloth material in these bod bodies. Details about the Tollund Man’s clothes are not known since most of his clothes had rotten away.

Tollund Man: Well preserved hair of Elling Woman.

Well preserved hair of Elling Woman. (Lennart Larsen / National Museum Collections)

Scientifically, the clothes might have consisted of vegetable fibre including flax and nettle, as such materials would have got wasted away with time. The man who gave the name Tollund Man to the bog body was P. V. Glob a Danish archaeologist, however, this is just another theory. The name Tollund would have been derived from the village of Tollund, where the bodies were found.

Enjoyed this article? Also, check out “Children of Llullaillaco: Where Young Children Were Sacrificed to the Gods“.

Recommended Read:
The Bog People: Iron Age Man Preserved | By P.V. Glob, Elizabeth Wayland Barber & Paul Barber

Recommended Visit:
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology |  Dublin, Ireland

Recommended Watch:
Timewatch – The Bog Bodies

Fact Analysis:
STSTW Media strives to deliver accurate information through careful research. However, things can go wrong. If you find the above article inaccurate or biased, please let us know at [email protected]


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