The Tollund Man Facts

The Tollund Man is the name given to the naturally mummified remains of a 5th-century BC man who lived in pre-Roman Iron Age Scandinavia.

Facts About the Tollund Man

  • The Tollund Man was discovered in 1950 in the Bjældskovdal peat bog, close to Silkeborg in Denmark. The men who found the preserved body, two peat cutters called Viggo and Emil Hojgaard, initially thought they’d found the body of a recent murder victim.
  • Danish archaeologist Peter Vilhelm Glob was the first archaeologist to view the Tollund Man, and he is probably responsible for the Tollund Man name.
  • The Tollund Man was discovered about 2.5 metres under the surface.
  • His body was naked apart from a pointed cap made from sheepskin and wool, a smooth leather belt around his waist, and an animal hide noose pulled tightly around his neck.
  • It was estimated that the Tollund Man was around 40 years old when he died, and his final meal was made up of porridge and fish.
  • According to radiocarbon dating, the Tollund Man died somewhere between 405 BC and 380 BC.
  • The Tollund Man would have been 5′ 3″.
  • In 1976, the Danish police took fingerprints from the Tollund Man, making his the oldest fingerprints on record.
  • The remains of the Tollund Man are displayed at the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark. Only the head is original. The rest of his body could not be saved in the 1950s, and a replica was made in 1987.
  • The remains of more than 500 Iron Age people have been discovered in peat bogs in Denmark over the years.
  • The Tollund Man was the subject of Seamus Heaney’s The Tollund Man poem.
  • A character in Margaret Drabble’s novel A Natural Curiosity is obsessed with the Tollund Man.
  • The UK band The Darkness wrote a song called Curse of the Tollund Man, and the US band The Mountain Goats wrote a song called Tollund Man.
  • Most historians and archaeologists who have studied the Tollund Man believe that he was the victim of human sacrifice or ritual killing. He was killed by hanging, and the rope left visible grooves on his chin and neck.
  • Researchers discovered that the Tollund Man was infected with three types of parasites, indicating that he was regularly drinking contaminated water or eating undercooked meat.
  • Attempts to extract DNA samples from the Tollund Man have so far been unsuccessful. The acid in the peat bog causes DNA to disintegrate.