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Tollund Man - The most preserved bog body from Prehistoric times

Image Credit: Sven Rosborn

On May 6, 1950, the police from Silkeborg received a call with regards to a newly found corpse. Two Danish brothers named Viggo and Emil Hojgaard, while collecting peat, discovered the body which appeared to be fresh that they thought it was a recently murdered victim following a disappearance of a boy from Copenhagen just a few days earlier.

However, upon initial investigation, there were no signs of recent digging, the local police then disregard the possibility of the corpse as a recent victim of a murder case. Puzzled by the appearance of the corpse, they eventually asked for help for a thorough investigation of the corpse with a scientist name P. V. Glob. Upon recognizing that the corpse is from an ancient burial, Glob immediately started studying the body.


The remains of Tollund Man shortly after the discovery. Image Credit: Nationalmuseet

The name Tollund comes from the name of the village where the two brothers discovered the corpse. Tollund man like other "bog people" (mummified body found in Western Europe) is believed to be a human sacrifice who lived during the 4th century B.C. Scandinavian characterized the period as the Pre-Roman Age. Human sacrifice is a common tradition during that time to ensure a plentiful harvest.

The Tollund man is a well-preserved bog body from Prehistoric times. The corpse is mummified and preserved from peat bogs. The acid from the peat, along with the lack of oxygen underneath the surface and the cold climate, preserves the human body.

In an autopsy report in 1950, the doctors concluded that the Tollund Man died by hanging, a common ritual sacrifice from prehistoric times. The noose is still hanging around his neck. He is probably 40 years old and 5 ft 3 inches in height.

When the Tollund Man was discovered, he was in the fetal position and buried under 2 meters of peat, 50 meters away from firm ground. The body was naked with a leather cap fastened around his chin and a wide belt around his waist. His hair was cut short, and there was a short stubble on his chin and upper lip. Tests were carried out, including his stomach and intestine, it was then identified that the man's last meal was porridge made with 40 different kinds of seeds and grains.

Tollund Man on display at Silkeborg Museum in Denmark. Image Credit: Grönneger 1

The Tollund man's body is now on display at Silkeborg Museum in Denmark. Visitors can look into the face of the well-preserved bog body from Iron Age. The discovery of Tollund man brings new learning from the past and how people's lives change as time goes by.