Grauballe Man

“It was the 26th of April 1952, and it was a Saturday morning. I stood on the shovel and it wobbled like a rubber ball. I hit him right on the shoulder. There was the head so fine. I had to get down on my knees to see if it really was a human head. Then I realized it really was.”

A bog body is discovered... 

This is how Tage Busk Sørensen, a peat-cutter who was working in the Nebelgaard Bog in Central Jutland in Denmark, describes his discovery of ‘Grauballe Man’, one of the most spectacular discoveries from Denmark’s prehistory. The local doctor, after visiting the bog, called in archaeologist P.V. Glob from Aarhus, as he suspected Grauballe Man to be one of those strangely well-preserved ‘bog bodies’ from the Iron Age, several of which had been found across Denmark and elsewhere in north-western Europe. When Glob arrived “a great crowd of people was assembled around a human head, dark in complexion and with short-cropped hair that stuck up from the brown peat mass.” The man was buried naked, lying on his stomach in an Iron Age peat cutting. He was exceptionally well preserved, with clearly defined facial features, a smooth skin a shock of red hair and even the stubble of a two-week old beard on his cheek.

Moesgaard's 'crown jewel'

Because of Grauballe Man's incredible state of preservation and Glob’s imaginative explanation of bog bodies as sacrifices to the fertility goddess Nerthus, Grauballe Man immediately captured the hearts and imagination of the public and media. This fascination has lasted until today, with Grauballe Man gripping people’s hearts and enjoying great public and scientific interest. He is a major public attraction and Moesgaard Museum’s ‘crown jewel’.

But who was Grauballe Man? When did he live? And how and why did he end up in the bog? On this website you can find out more about Grauballe Man, who lived more than 2000 years ago in the Iron Age before he was violently killed and placed in a watery grave in a small bog. Here he lay for thousands of years until Tage dug his spade into him in April 1952.