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Autopsy at Bispebjerg Hospital

Following the excavation, Tollund Man was transported to Bispebjerg Hospital where an autopsy was performed. Consultant physician Chr. Baastrup x-rayed the head and upper part of the body. The x-ray revealed an advanced decalcification of the bones due to the stay in the bog and, from what he could tell, there were no signs of any cervical vertebrae being damaged. The brain was remarkably well-preserved, although much shrunken. Dr. Bjovulf Vimtrup and pathologist Kay Schorup examined the body and found that his interior, although much flattened, were just as well preserved as his exterior. The placement of the rope and the distinct furrows in the skin at the side of the neck suggested that he had been hanged. In his colon they found residues of his last meal that had been consumed 12-24 hours prior to his death. A later analysis of the content revealed that the meal presumably had been porridge or some kind of gruel largely made of barley, with linseed and oats. In addition, other ground-up seeds of weed plants were found, where some might have been gathered intentionally, while others could be a random contamination. Following the autopsy, the head and feet were severed from the rest of the body in the attempt to conserve them. The head was only conserved when Silkeborg Museum expressed a wish to exhibit it.

Røntgenbillede af Tollundmanden. Det ses tydeligt at hans hjerne er velbevaret.

X-ray of Tollund Man. His brain has shrunk, but is otherwise well preserved. Photo Bispebjerg Hospital.