Tollund Man
Biographical Information
Name(s) The Tollund Man
Age ~40 years old
Sex Male
Status Human sacrifice
Height 161cm (5ft 3in)
Culture Scandinavian
Date(s) ~400 BC (Pre-Roman Iron Age)
Site Silkeborg, Denmark
Current Location
Location Silkeborg Museum
Catalog #

Tollund man


The Tollund Man lived during the 4th century BC in what is now Silkeborg, Denmark. We do not know what type of life he lived, but archaeologists believe that he was either a common man or a criminal [1].


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].

His arms and hands were skeletonized and ruined due to digging in the bog. The head was well preserved – the eyes were closed and the mouth. 

The Head - The Tollund Man had a calm look on his face. His hair was short (1-2 centrimetres long) and he had partly preserved eyebows. On his upper lip, chin and cheeks appeared very short but thick stubble. His eyes, mouth and well-preserved lips were closed.

The Body - When he was discovered, most parts of body were well-preserved; only the upward-facing side of the body in the excavation of the peat bog showed signs of decomposition.

The upper part of his body was bent slightly forward and most of the skin had been preserved. However, the left side of his chest and shoulder was somewhat decomposed since big areas of the skin were missing. The right side of the body was well-preserved, even if the skin was pierced by the bones of the shoulder and the lower ribs. Down his back was a long line of sharp cuts caused by the spades that dug into him when he was discovered in the bog. His hip socket had pierced the skin on his left side. The skin of the stomach was pleated. The genitals were well-preserved and that of a male.

The Feet - On one of the soles of his feet the medical examiners found two scars which proved that the Tollund Man, at least sometimes, walked around barefoot and several times have stepped on sharp stones or thorns. The fact that the toes are slightly pushed together might indicate that he did wear some kind of footwear at other times.


The Tollund Man's body was studied to determine the cause of his death. 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 [2].


The Tollund Man died from being hung from a tree, as a sacrifice to the gods.The forensic examiner’s report stated “the robe, judging by the way it was paced around the body’s neck, was most likely not used for strangulation, and because of that it is of less importance that the cervical vertebras were undamaged since that sometimes happens when a person is hanged”. X-rays revealed the Tollund Man’s cervical vertebrae were not broken despite the certainty that he had been hanged.

Additional InfoEdit

When the Tollund Man was discovered in 1950, the two men that found the mummy thought that it was a recent murder victim because of how well preserved the body was. They alerted the local police of their findings, but they soon realized the body was much older than originally thought and called for Professor P.V. Glob, who determined that they had actually just unearthed an ancient burial [1].

The Tollund Man was found completely naked, except for a narrow leather belt made of oxhide around his waist.

His head was covered with a leather cap made of sheepskin (eight pieces with the fur turned inwards). The pieces were sown together with thread (most likely wool).

External LinksEdit

Silkeborg Museum. (2004). The tollunad man: A face of pre-historic Denmark. Retrieved from


1. The Tollund Man - A Face from Prehistoric Denmark. (2005). Retrieved October 12, 2015, from

2. Holloway, A. (2014, March 5). Tollund Man – the preserved face from Prehistoric Denmark and the tale of ritual sacrifice. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from

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