Lindow Manchester

How the Lindow Man Exhibits were Chosen

It’s a great pleasure to know that the Lindow Man exhibition is still generating lots of interest. This morning I had an enquiry from a student about how the exhibits were selected and whether the people who helped us with the exhibition were consulted. How we selected the exhibits was dictated by our approach to the exhibition which emerged from the public consultation we did in February 2007.

In our public consultation meeting in February 2007 we were asked to two things: to tell the story or stories of Lindow Man from different perspectives and to treat his body with sensitivity. We decided to tell Lindow man’s story or stories from a number of different points of view, namely, those of: a forensic scientist, the man who found the body, a landscape archaeologist, a member of the Lindow community, a pagan, a museum curator and someone from the British Museum. We recognize that there are other perspectives of course but seven was an optimum number and the perspectives chosen seemed to give us the greatest breadth.

We interviewed all seven people and asked them to contribute material that would illustrate their connection with Lindow Man and say something about their own background and lives. In some cases the interviewees struggled to suggest material either because they genuinely couldn’t think of anything or because it simply hadn’t survived. All the peat working tools used at Lindow Moss appear to have been lost for instance so we borrowed some from Lancashire Museums Service to support Bruce and Andy Mould’s section. In those cases where the interviewee was at a loss to suggest something we proposed an object and asked the person concerned if he or she was happy with it. Don Brothwell was happy for us to show a range of lab equipment, for example, because all those used in the BM forensic study of Lindow Man had been lost or disposed of over the years.

In the case of Susan Chadwick, Susan had already made it known to us that she had material relevant to the repatriation campaign to bring Lindow Man back to the North West, including a t-shirt and a photograph of the Lindow School choir. This was one of the reasons we invited Susan to take part. When it came to suggesting something from Susan’s childhood that she had had at the time of Lindow Man only the Care Bear survived, and we decided to display it because it showed that Susan, though now a mature woman, had been a child when Lindow Man was discovered. Susan’s comments about seeing Lindow Man’s body on display at the Manchester Museum in 1987 have to be read in that light. We broadly agreed the exhibits that were more representative of the 1980s with Susan but sourced them according to what was available or what was offered to us. I think the boy band poster came from a friend of one of the ladies in the office, and the Grolsch shoes were mocked up based on what Susan told us she could remember about fashion in the play ground.

So all the objects were either selected by or agreed with the interviewees. In fact I can think of one example where Emma Restall Orr, our pagan contributor, said she didn’t like our suggestion that we display a copy of “Asterix the Golden Sickle” and we took it off our potential exhibits list. So the objects were selected in a collaborative and inclusive way that took account of the interviewees’ own suggestions. When we proposed something we obtained that person’s agreement.


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