Lindow Manchester

More Bog Body Poetry

Recent contributions of poetry relating to Lindow Man seem to have struck a chord. Earlier this week I had a letter from the writer and artist, Eve Coxeter, who tells me she bumped into Joan Poulson and heard about the Lindow Man exhibition.

Like Joan, Eve was inspired by the bog body phenomenon to write a novel about Tollund Man. Eve visited Silkeborg some years ago to see his body and actually met P.V.Glob, who wrote the seminal work The Bog People, with its beautiful black and white photographs of bog bodies and associated discoveries.

Joan writes that Prof.Glob was elderly but still used his own plane to fly up to his farm near Silkebord every weekend. There were even burial mounds on his property, she says. Eve’s novel was intended to bring Torlund (the medieval name) to life.

Although it remains unpublished, the script can be accessed via Eve’s website,,  and anyone interested can see the novel under ‘Novels:Torlund?’ . Eve has also kindly allowed me to post a copy of her poem on the Blog and reproduce her drawing and a sculpture of Tollund Man. So thanks to Eve for allowing me to share this:-
By Eve Coxeter

how sunken are you?

Dredged from the peat
where you have slept
through autumn mists.
fog sweep your soul
yet rise so whole
in face and foot
not man made flesh
but gods returned
your incomplete reality.

How past gives back
presents your face to man
in all but breath.

You speak
through humic acids
no words commune
unconscious host
fen sacrifice noosed
for a lost goddess
your sacred seed
germinating the archaic
silence in us all,

Convey, tell that which
human knowledge would compel
our hoped communication
divided from you at last
by the glass case
only of time.
Which reminds me that there is a copy of a novel ‘Lindow End’ by local writer Christine Pemberton in Susan Chadwick’s section of the Lindow Man exhibition. This contemporary thriller involves ancient bog body DNA and a test tube baby. I don’t want to give anything away but I haven’t been able to look Christine in the eye since I read her book.

Anything but a Bog Standard Landscape: Restoring Lindow Moss
Prof Anthony Jones opens the workshop

Prof Anthony Jones opens the workshop

It is a few years now since I have been in Wilmslow but I was absolutely delighted to be invited to a workshop about the future of Lindow Moss at the Friends House on Thursday 3rd April by Professor Emeritus John Handley of University of Manchester. John Handley is Professor of Landscape and Environmental Planning at the University of Manchester, and is involved in a collaborative initiative with Transition Wilmslow, Cheshire Wildlife Trust and others to explore a more constructive future for Lindow Moss. They are working to secure the restoration of the current peat working area as a self-sustaining wetland habitat and to conserve and interpret the surrounding peatland landscape. The workshop was the first step in trying to bring people together to discuss the development of a ‘New Vision for Lindow Moss’.

Peat extraction 2007 (photo: B.Sitch)

Peat extraction 2007 (photo: B.Sitch)

The organizers wanted members of the archaeological community to be part of this initiative. They kindly invited me because I’d worked on the Museum’s Lindow Man exhibition in 2008-9 and because Manchester Museum has hosted Lindow Man three times for temporary exhibitions since his discovery in August 1984. In fact as one of the speakers reminded us, it will soon be the 30th anniversary of his discovery on Lindow Moss and surely that deserves recognition, doesn’t it? Prof.Handley read an excerpt from a short article by Rick Turner, the archaeologist whose painstaking detective work led to the discovery of Lindow Man’s body.

Many different groups and interests were represented in the audience

Many different groups and interests were represented in the audience

The proceedings were opened by Prof Handley and Tony Evans of Saltersley Common Preservation Society. John talked about the development of the landscape since the time of the last glaciation. Colonization of what was an area of woodland by sphagnum moss during the Mesolithic period killed the trees and created a raised bog. The exploitation of the peat deposits for fuel from at least as early as the Middle Ages resulted in the creation of distinctive field boundaries called moss ‘rooms’. Prof.Handley described this as one of the best-preserved landscapes of this type that he is aware of in Britain, and yet, astonishingly, it is not protected by designation of any kind.

This lack of recognition is compounded locally by the confusion between Lindow Moss and Lindow Common. If a fire is reported at the former, journalists apparently turn up at the latter! After the two opening addresses the participants were invited to join one of four sub-groups which went away for discussion and then reported back in a plenary session. I joined the ‘Education and Interpretation’ which did not have as many people as the other sub-groups. The photo below shows (left to right) local authors Christine Pemberton and Matthew Hyde, Prof Anthony Jones, Tony Evans and Gary, our Chairman for the sub-group.

Sub-group discussion about  education and interpretation. Local authors Matthew Hyde and Christine Pemberton are sitting on the left.

Sub-group discussion about education and interpretation. Local authors Matthew Hyde and Christine Pemberton are sitting on the left.

We had a wide-ranging discussion about what we should be trying to communicate and how to go about doing it. Without wanting to pre-empt the more formal report that will be made, we talked about a multi-disciplinary report that included all the subject disciplines in which Lindow Moss is important: archaeology because of Lindow Man, natural history, ecology because of the unique fauna and flora that live in a bog, and many others too. Christine reminded us that historically the moss was a place of refuge for people who had nowhere else to go.

Gypsey Taylor, Morley Green

Gypsey Taylor, Morley Green (photo: Christine Pemberton)

We said it was important to put Lindow Moss on the map, and ensure everyone knew where and what it was. We felt that people would be more likely to support the proposals if they could see that there were practical benefits.   By stopping the peat extraction the moss could recover and what Prof Handley called ‘keystone species’ re-colonize the wet areas. If rare plants, animals such as water voles, and birds and insects returned the moss could become a centre for bio-diversity, eco-tourism and education. There could be eco-friendly sculpture, demonstrations of traditional wood crafts and art and music. Stephen Vaughn has already captured the stillness and apparently timeless quality of the peat bog in a series of beautiful photographs.

Photo of Lindow Moss by Vaughan

Photo of Lindow Moss by Stephen Vaughan

More practically, by maintaining the water table, problems with subsidence would be avoided by local residents. We also felt there would be health benefits for people using the moss for recreation.   I kind of got ‘volunteered’ into reporting back to the main group. Many interesting suggestions were made, including one to build an Iron Age roundhouse at Lindow Moss but there were too many for this blog to list in detail; but one of the practical things to come out of the day was the proposal to commemorate what will be the 30th anniversary of the discovery of Lindow Man in August 2014. Other ‘quick win’ proposals suggest themselves: joining in the Festival of Archaeology in July or Heritage Open Days in September. Other special interest groups will have their own dates for events and activities so that a multi-disciplinary programme for Lindow Moss could be put together quite quickly to help promote the initiative.

It was a very positive day and we now look forward to the dayschool on 18th October 2014. Richard Turner, who as the former Cheshire County Archaeologist played such a key role in the discovery and conservation of Lindow Man, has already agreed to take part. It is hoped to include a contribution from Manchester Museum too at the event . You don’t have to have attended the workshop in order to go to the Day School, which is seen as a free standing educational event, aimed at generating interest amongst the public and profile-raising for the ‘New Vision for Lindow Moss’ initiative.

Lindow Man at the Manchester Museum Blog 2010 in review
January 2, 2011, 9:07
Filed under: Uncategorized

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,500 times in 2010. That’s about 16 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 10 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 91 posts. There were 8 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 10mb.

The busiest day of the year was March 24th with 77 views. The most popular post that day was Cartoon Strip Lindow Man.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for lindow man, man, the lindow man, mistletoe, and lindow woman.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Cartoon Strip Lindow Man February 2009


Graphic Killing of Lindow Man March 2009


Collective Conversation Comparing Lindow Man Exhibitions October 2008


Student Drawings of Lindow Man’s Death February 2009


Bog Bodies book April 2010

Alan Partridge and Bog Axe
December 8, 2010, 9:07
Filed under: Lindow Man Exhibition | Tags: , ,

Stephen Welsh kindly sent me a link to Mid Morning Matters, on U-Tube , by Steve Coogan’s comic persona, Alan Partridge,  based around the idea of the 100 most famous Norfolk people. Horatio Nelson, Delia Smith and Egyptologist Howard Carter are in the list. Alan Partridge says Carter was responsible for Time Team (!) and a describes a conversation with Tony Robinson about re-animating a dead Saxon and finding out about what he had for his pudding before he was murdered with a blunt instrument in the year 5. It was only when Partridge mentioned a bog axe that I realised he must have been referring, in his characteristically muddled way, to Lindow Man!  The whole thing is cringe inducing but hilarious. This is the link if anyone wants to check it out: . The bog axe piece is about 6 mins 30 secs in.

Lindow Man talk to University of Manchester Archaeology Students
November 18, 2010, 9:07
Filed under: Events, Lindow Man Exhibition | Tags: ,

At the beginning of this term I met Andy Michaelas, a first year archaeology student at the University of Manchester. He was very keen to start up the students’ archaeology society again. He kindly asked me to give a talk to the students on the subject of Lindow Man.

Going over some of the earlier presentations I am reminded just how much material there is to talk about. If you look upon the exhibition as an exercise in public archaeology and you include the earlier exhibitions of 1987 and 1991 it is clear that the three ‘outings’ to Manchester provide a fascinating  sequence of displays that shed light on changing attitudes, approaches and findings to and about Lindow Man.

Anyway the talk is in Mansfield Cooper in the University of Manchester tonight at 6pm Room 2.05 and I’m looking forward to it.

Contesting Human Remains

A new book appeared that discusses the treatment of human remains in museums. Written by Tiffany Jenkins, Contesting Human Remains in Museum Collections criticizes museums for hiding their mummies and other human remains even though they are popular with the public for fear of offending pagans and other minority groups.

The Manchester Museum was mentioned several times in articles about the publication of the book appeared at the time in the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph. The Museum removed the head of Worsley Man from display and consulted with the public about the covering of Egyptian mummies a couple of years ago. Jenkins presents these and other examples involving the display of human remains as part of a radical change in policy by museums which, she says, have been unduly influenced by the claims of minority groups such as pagans.

Native Australian photographed outside Manchester Museum 2000s

Repatriation of human remains: Manchester Museum 2002

Requests from indigenous communities in Australia, New Zealand and the Americas for the repatriation of human remains, together with public concern about the retention of organs in hospitals and pathology labs have contributed to the feeling that human remains deserve sensitive treatment.  The Human Tissue Act, 2004 came into force to regulate their retention and storage.

Picking up on the perceived need to treat human remains sensitively many museums have written and implemented policies affecting material in their collections.  Dr Jenkins says this is being driven by professional insecurity rather than public demand. Whilst it’s certainly  true the majority of the public want human remains to continue to be displayed in museums there’s also a feeling that this should be done respectfully.  There is  a danger that museums’ attempts to consult with the public about how this can be achieved are dismissed as ‘political correctness’  or caving-in to pressure groups.

The process of consultation is sometimes mistaken for the end result – the trial covering,  partial covering and display of uncovered mummies a few years ago was presented by local media as a final and unilateral decision on the part of the Museum, which was only overturned after public protest. I understood this to have been part of a public consultation to see how visitors felt about three different potential ways of displaying such remains.  Such misunderstandings have made the free and open discussion about human remains more difficult. As a university museum it is part of our role to stimulate debate, not only in the interests of students, but also to engage the public.  If the act of stimulating debate about a current issue is mis-represented as political correctness it effectively closes down discussion of that issue. I fear that it will inhibit museums from interacting with the public on this and other important issues.

What is being contested isn’t necessarily what happens to human remains but more inclusive methods of working by museums.   That probably says more about the influence of old-fashioned ways of thinking about museum practice than it says about human remains per se.

Lindow Man Exhibition on University Museum’s Website
August 31, 2010, 9:07
Filed under: Publication | Tags: , ,

An overview of the Manchester Museum’s Lindow Man: a Bog Body Mystery exhibition can be seen on the University Museums Group’s newly launched website: -

The case study  gives a concise summary of the exhibition, its aims and objectives, refers to the criticism that greeted its opening  and what we achieved.

The fact that we are still receiving enquiries about different aspects of the project is very gratifying. This morning I received an email from a PhD student at the Univeristy of Wales regarding Pagan involvement with archaeology and heritage, and the contestation of human remains. As the public consultation involved representatives from HAD (Honouring the Ancient Dead) I suspect we may be able to help the student concerned.


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