The Tollund Man

3-3 minutes 7/26/2021


The Tollund Man – A naturally mummified corpse of a man who lived during the 4th century BC. He was found in 1950, perfectly preserved as a bog body, on the Jutland peninsula, in Denmark.

On 6 May 1950, two brothers were cutting pea in the Bjaeldskov bog, when they came upon a body that was so well preserved, thought it was a recent death. Upon closer examination, it was realized that the body was actually a amazingly preserved man from 4th century BC. Now known as Tollund Man, he lived in what is now Silkeborg, Denmark. minute details such as eyelashes, chin stubble, skin, and wrinkles have survived. Tollund man was thought to be around 40 years of age at his time of death, at a height of over 5 feet tall.

The Tollund Man was naturally mummified in a peat bog, making him a “bog body”. Bog bodies have their skin and internal organs preserved extremely well due to the conditions in the bogs. Theses conditions include low temperatures, lack of oxygen and very acidic water (pH of 3-5). The highly acidic water helps preserve the skin but it also dissolves calcium phosphate (which is found in human bones) [1].

The head was well preserved, his hair was short (1-2 centimeters long) and he had partly preserved eyebrows. On his upper lip, chin and cheeks appeared very short but thick stubble. His eyes, mouth and well-preserved lips were closed. 

It is thought that the Tollund man was a sacrifice, then was placed in a peat bog which preserved him.

It was clear that he had been hanged, but archaeologists were unsure why. After an investigation, it was noted that the Tollund Man’s eyes and mouth had been carefully closed, something that wouldn’t have happened if he had been hanged as punishment for a crime. Also, during that time period, everyone who died in Denmark was cremated, except for those that were sacrificed. It was therefore concluded, that he had been hanged as a human sacrifice.

His body was arranged in the fetal position, and after being examined, scientists found a animal hide rope around his neck as well as bruising on the skin under his chin. He was found wearing a sheepskin cap and a wide belt.

His last meal was porridge made from over 40 different kinds of grains and seeds.