Lindow Moss, known also as Saltersley Common, is a raised mire peat bog on the edge of Wilmslow in Cheshire.
The origins of the Moss go back to the last Ice Age, when the glaciers were melting. The gravel sand and clay were carried from the Pennines and deposited on the Cheshire plains. Lindow Moss has been used as common land since as far back as the the middle ages.
The moss is known for its flora and fauna such as Tail Cotton Grass, Common Cotton grass and Green Hairstreak Butterfly (pictured left), a small butterfly which holds its wings closed, except in flight, showing only the green underside with its faint white streak.
Birds which frequent the moss include Buzzards and Grasshopper Warblers. Rare Water Voles are also known to inhabit the moss.
The site originally covered some 600 hectares (1,500 acres), but has since shrunk to a tenth of its original size. For centuries the peat from the bog was used as fuel, and it continues to be extracted, but the process has now been mechanised.
A possible prehistoric trackway on the west side of Lindow Moss was recorded by a Mr Norbury in 1884:-
'one Peter Cash found, somewhere on the Mobberley side of Lindow, what appeared to be a roadway made of logs and timber placed end to end, with sleepers across laid close together, and this I am told continued for some length up the Moss, and I think it was at the bottom of the bog, but of this I am not sure.'
A similar prehistoric trackway was found during excavations for the second runway at Manchester Airport on the Oversley Farm site.
Lindow Common, on the western edge of Wilmslow, is designated a Local Nature Reserve. Black Lake is situated at the centre of the common. Black Lake in the Welsh language translates as llyn ddu and it is from this source (i.e. Ancient British) that Lindow derives.
The bog is more famous for the 1984 discovery of Lindow Man by peat cutters.
In 1983, a peat digger named Andy Mould was working on the edge of Lindow Moss when he unearthed a female human head, this was followed by the discovery of a leg the next year. After further investigation a complete head & torso of an Iron Age Man were unearthed, though his body below the waist is still missing apart from his right leg. The acidic, oxygen-free conditions in the peat bog meant that the man’s skin, hair and many of his internal organs were extremely well preserved. The find has been described as "one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 1980s".
Investigation reveals that Lindow Man, or 'Pete Marsh' as he is sometimes known, was 25 years old at the time of his death, which is estimated to have took place around A.D. 50 and A.D. 100. Death had resulted from a blow to the head by a blunt object, garotting and having his throat cut.
In life Lindow man (Lindow II) would have measured five feet seven inches (168 cm) tall and was well built and weighed about 132 pounds (60 kg). A leathery skin with a yellowish hue and clearly visible wrinkles, the face is contorted due to pressure and decalcification of the bones. Unusually for a bog body, Lindow Man sported a beard and moustache. He was naked except for a fox fur armband. His beard had been trimmed a few days prior to his death and his finger nails were manicured, which has led to assumptions that he was probably a person of some wealth and status.
He ate a last meal of unleavened bread made from wheat and barley, cooked over a fire on which heather had been burnt. Evidence of pollen from a mistletoe plant was also discovered in his stomach. If it came from a flower, this would indicate that his death to have took place in March or April. He was found to have suffered from slight osteoarthritis and an infestation of whipworm and maw worm.
There are numerous theories to explain Lindow Man's death. Some have argued that he was the victim of a ritual murder and sacrificed to the gods by Druids. It's also possible that Lindow Man was a scapegoat of his local community who blamed him for the failure of crops, disease or famine.
The body of Lindow Man is now housed in a climate controlled cabinet at the British Museum, London.
The female head (Lindow I) was over 1500 years old, between the ages of 30 and 50 and became known as "Lindow Woman".
A walk on Lindow Moss
*Commencing from the Racecourse Road car park in Wilmslow, exit the car park and enter the moss at Greaves Road, just off Altrincham Road and follow the track until reaching a 'T' junction at Rotherwood Road, at which point turn right.
*Pass the prefabricated houses and shortly after turn left off the main path, crossing a stile and continue across a field. Skirt the western edge of the mere passing Saltersley Hall. ust beyond Saltersley turn left over a stile and cross a field. Cross another stile to enter a lane and turn right.
*Turn left at a finger post and head to Coppock House Farm. The track passes just to the west of the buildings and continues along the drive. On reaching Moss Lane, turn left crossing a stile, continue across the field to reach another stile.
*Skirt around the edge of the next field to 2 stiles with an plank bridge over the stream between them, cross another field, then climb the bank and cross another stile to turn right, and then left along the track that skirts around the edge of the second of the prefaricated ' houses. Almost immediately leave this track to the right.
*Take the path at the end of the row of houses, cross a stile and continue across another field behind Barlow House Farm. Via a snicket gate by the farm, turn left and follow the path to Moss Lane in Wilmslow. A short walk past a garden centre brings you to Stormy Point, turn left into Rotherwood Road and head north.
*Turn right at the green lane, with stables to your right, turn off to the right down a narrower lane, then left to emerge on the drive of a large house just by Racecourse Road. A short walk across Lindow Common returns you to the car park.