Elling Woman

The Elling Woman is a bog body discovered in 1938 west of Silkeborg, Denmark. The Tollund Man was later discovered just c. 60 m (200 ft) away, twelve years after the Elling Woman's discovery.[1] The Elling Woman was mistakenly described as a man in P.V. Glob's book, The Bog People, when it was published in 1965.[2]

Elling Woman
Ellingkvinden DO-1448.jpg
Upper body of the Elling Woman
Born375–175 BCE
Died350–150 BCE (aged 25) (approximate)
Cause of deathHanging (presumably ritual sacrifice)
Body discovered1938
Silkeborg, Denmark


Hairstyle of Elling Woman

Later known as the Elling Woman, the body was discovered by a local farmer, Jens Zakariasson, who at first believed that the remains were of a drowned animal. The body was wrapped in a sheepskin cape with a leather cloak tied around her legs.[3] The face of the woman was poorly preserved, and there were no traces of organs inside of the body.[4]


A reconstruction of her hairstyle and cape

The Elling Woman is believed to have been hanged, like the Tollund Man. The estimated year of death was dated to approximately 280 BCE in the Nordic Iron Age, also around the time of the Tollund Man; however, it is not possible to confirm whether or not they were both killed at exactly the same time. It also initially might have been impossible to tell the sex of her body, if the hair had not been preserved, although X rays were taken of her pelvis, which proved she was female.

In 1978, the body was reexamined with radiographs, from which the sex was determined to be female and the original age-at-death estimate of 25 years was found to be accurate.[4] This body is often identified by the 90 cm (35 in) braid on her head, which was tied into an elaborate knot.[4] Elling Woman is believed to have been a human sacrifice.[5]

Demineralization, which often occurs with bog bodies, was found to be the initial cause of what was first understood as apparent osteoporosis in the remains.[4]


  1. ^ Archaeological Institute of America: Violence in the Bogs. Archaeology.org. Retrieved on 15 September 2011.
  2. ^ Glob, Peter V. The Bog People: Iron-Age Man Preserved, Trans. Rupert Bruce-Mitford. Ithaca, New York: Faber and Faber Limited, 1969. Print.
  3. ^ Vandkilde, Helle (2003). "Tollund Man". In Bogucki, Crabtree (ed.). Ancient Europe 8000 B.C. – A.D. 1000: Encyclopedia of the Barbarian World. Vol. 1. London: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 27.
  4. ^ a b c d Gill-Robinson, Heather (2005). The Iron Age Bog Bodies of the Archäologische Landesmuseum Schloss Gottorf. p. 63.
  5. ^ Silkeborg Museum (2004). "Elling Woman". Denmark. Archived from the original on 29 March 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2012.