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Lindow Man: Manchester Museum gets bogged down

Jonathan Schofield gets very annoyed by an exhibition which says next to nothing about anything

Written by . Published on April 21st 2008.


Lindow Man: Manchester Museum gets bogged down

Lindow Man was sacrificed almost 2000 years ago. He’d been bludgeoned, garrotted and had his throat cut. Satisfied he was probably dead by then, his persecutors threw his body into a bog or pool which now forms part of the Lindow area of Wilmslow.

The result is that in one of the Britain’s major museums, in an exhibition dedicated to an Iron Age sacrifice, ten percent of the space is devoted to the 1980s. Work that one out.

Sacrifice such as this wasn’t altogether unusual. Water carried religious significance for the Iron Age peoples in Northern Europe and it was common practice to make offerings of weapons, clothes, food and even each other, to the deities they imagined lived in water.

Human sacrifice is the best you can get in archaeology to excite an audience, save for treasure. Lindow Man’s twisted body should therefore have provided a perfect centre piece to a tip-top exhibition in Manchester about the Iron Age in Britain.

Or so you’d have thought.

Surely Lindow Man (back up from the British Museum for a year) should be centre-stage, surrounded by artefacts from his time and culture, illustrations, dramatic models and reconstructions? Not at all. Instead visitors stumble across the poor fella in a cramped space, devoid of drama, bereft of a ‘ta-darrr’ moment.

The clue as to what’s gone wrong lies in the press information. This exhibition apparently looks ‘at what Lindow Man means to us today’. So forget the Iron Age, instead we get several of our contemporaries talking about him, half of them not even experts.

Susan Chadwick was a pupil at Lindow Primary School in 1984, when Lindow Man was discovered. Her thoughts are included because as the museum says, ‘For many people Lindow Man triggers feelings of nostalgia. He takes them back to the 1980s, a time of Bros and Care Bears.’ So, we get Sue’s Care Bears, Bros memorabilia and a Girl annual. There’s a line in the publicity which reads, ‘What is Lindow Man’s connection with a Care Bear?’ This is posed without irony. The result is that in one of the Britain’s major museums, in an exhibition dedicated to an Iron Age sacrifice, ten percent of the space is devoted to the 1980s. Work that one out.

Another one of our select group is a self-appointed ‘pagan’ Emma Restall Orr, a ‘Druid Priest’. She gets her say because first off, she represents a group of ‘pagans’ who think it’s disrespectful to display the ancient dead. The logic seems to be, let’s invite her, that should keep them happy. Or to be kinder, and more accurate, they think because she’s a ‘pagan’ she must have a special affinity with Lindow Man - even though she has no idea what he really believed, and 'paganism' if it refers to ancient times is all guesswork.

This seems a dangerous step. The museum appears to have given power of attorney to a person who has no right whatsoever to speak for the corpse. It also raises questions of how far should we allow spirituality into museums? Will it end with a priest, an imam and a ‘pagan’ in institutions supposedly dedicated to reason not superstition?

The other reason Orr is here seems to be that her beliefs put her in touch in a special way with the British landscape. Which is plain nonsense, many of us would claim a similar special relationship. It gets worse. Orr is quoted as saying: ‘Perhaps we need Lindow Man to teach us about the magic, the enchantment of the landscape, of ancestry, of our heritage and all the ways in which they connect so powerfully.’ How lovely. Sort of environmentally friendly isn’t it? Let’s go re-cycle some cans of coke.

But she might also have pointed out that Lindow Man also teaches us how lucky we are to live in a society which doesn’t think it’s acceptable to bludgeon and garrotte people and throw them in a bog. Maybe Lindow Man teaches us of the dangers of a society ruled by omens, signs and sudden changes of weather: a society which may have worked intimately with nature but was prey to it.

But we don't get that because this exhibition is almost entirely devoid of information or balance. This is the danger of this vox pop approach to galleries. It’s like one of those history-lite Channel 5 documentaries were people keep talking about their reaction to what they’ve found, as though trying to coerce us into feeling the same. Just give us the facts please, and let the audience decide when to empathise.

The museum’s role here was to educate and excite people, immerse them in another time. We should have had Iron Age tools and weapons, a reconstructed chariot, a section through a hillfort ditch, examples of Iron Age food to taste and an Iron Age roundhouse in the museum forecourt. If that was way beyond budget, we could for God’s sake, have at least had some bloody good wall displays.

It’s not as though examples of good museum practice are too far away. The Egyptology gallery upstairs in this museum, in an even more cramped area, shows what can be done, as does the Fossils Gallery.

Manchester Museum is a fabulous museum but it’s let itself down badly with Lindow Man. The only reason the exhibition is worth visiting is to view the twisted corpse of the sacrificial victim himself. That is very moving: the rest is flim-flam: cramped, confused and shallow. It even fails in that most important of pursuits in modern museums: it's boring for families.

Lindow Man: a bog body mystery is at Manchester Museum until 19 April 2009.

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141 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

MarkApril 21st 2008.

I actually spent a good half hour in the exhibition; there was a lot to see and hear (there are sound booths which nobody seems to have mentioned). The exhibition in all fairness is not about the Iron Age it is called Lindow Man A Bog Body Mystery and records the perspectives of the seven interviewees to Lindow Man.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

Dear Regular_Viewer. How do you know the museum turned down Bronze Age objects from the BM? Are you a disgruntled staff member? Anyway, call yourself an archaeologist - Lindow Man is Iron Age NOT Bronze Age you dummy. Even a simplistic reading of this exhibition would have told you that (assuming in your self-righteous ignorance you didn't already know!)

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

I have a sneaking suspicion the comments displayed here which praise the exhibition are the museum staff. They certainly have that air of 'museum professional' about them.

LauraApril 21st 2008.

I think the idea of the advertising is so that people are not forced to look at human remains if they don't want to. The exhibitions designed that way as well so you don't have to look at him if you don't want to. Ah well, lost on old Barbra I guess.

Phil DarwenApril 21st 2008.

Well, the author of the article and many who support it must rank amongst the most ill informed and blinkered folk I've ever had the misfortune to come across.That some claim to work at a university makes me wonder in what capacity!It is my understanding that the museum consulted a wide range of people - academic, scientific and members of the community - some of which happened to be pagan because it is a subject close to their hearts and they chose to be involved. The display represents all those views - or tries to given limited space and budget.Has anyone bothered to look up the planned activities that go together with the exhibition? Did anyone spend a few hours in there reading the literature provided? Seems to me that most of the dissenters simply skipped through expecting to be entertained and left disappointed.But lets be clear on one point. This is a human being we are talking about. Shove someone's grandmother in a glass case for all to oggle and the response may be different. If you want sensationalism then go down the road to see the display that is passed off as art. The fact that he died 2000 years ago doesn't make him any less human and any less worthy of the generally accepted respect shown to the dead.As for the exhibition reflecting the views of pagans I think you'd find that many would prefer him not to be displayed at all and to be placed back in the earth. Having said that I applaud the museum for consulting with the community and for considering the need for sensitive display of human remains. I also applaud that they have tried to make people think for themselves - but judging from many of the comments here they have failed - but that perhaps says more about the audience than the presenters.

random commenterApril 21st 2008.

barbara - I don't recommend the body worlds exhibition as MOSIM then.... they're not plastic they are real!

KymApril 21st 2008.

Personally, I'm offended that pagan is written with quotation marks - 'pagan' - like we aren't real. Priests or Imams are shown respect in the article, so why are pagans mocked in this way? This just shows how ignorant Schofield is about paganism and shows irresponsible journalism.

Regular_ViewerApril 21st 2008.

I suggest you read again then.I've not denied anyone's right to express a contrary opinion, nor have I criticised anything anyone else has said (beyond stating the issues I have with certain statements made).I have expressed my own opinion on the exhibition, and on certain current practice. Nothing more.Anyway, I only posted this to share an opinion, I'm not getting drawn into any petty arguments.

Polly AnnaApril 21st 2008.

I have been 5 times already. I love it.

wayneApril 21st 2008.

Dear anonymous... you were gutted, can you imagine how Lindow Man must have felt

Enough AlreadyApril 21st 2008.

enough, already. Will you lot get real.

SpeakerToAnimalsApril 21st 2008.

I had a friend visiting for the weekend, who had heard of Lindow Man and wanted to visit.We came out after a few minutes. It's like visiting a half-built B&Q kitchen, almost totally devoid of informational content.I work at the University of Manchester, and felt ashamed that the University Museum is presenting such utter tosh to visitors!We went off instead to view the wonderful victorian display gallery of totally unPC stuffed animals, and learnt much more.

KarenApril 21st 2008.

The pagan woman is a problem. If she's there then maybe we should also have a vicar there giving his/her ideas on Lindow Man and his hideous death. Main point is though what does she actually add to our knowledge of the life and times of lindow man, if it's nothing, like the care bear girl it's not worth including her.

FionaApril 21st 2008.

(Alan) You should get out more if you think the exhibiting techniques are "weird." Maybe take a time-machine back 20 years.

LauraApril 21st 2008.

I saw the exhibition on the weekend and while I can't say I was a fan of the MDF, I thought the content was brilliant. I think it is absolutely ridiculous of Mr Schofield to say 'this exhibition is almost entirely devoid of information or balance.' Perhaps he should have taken the time to look around him. The additional information provided in the extremely bulky flipbooks was excellent, with some specialist reports from scientific and archaeological journals so that those with an interest can find out more without the uninitiated being put off the exhibition by text panels crammed full of technical jargon. And unbalanced? How is presenting the story of what we know about Lindow Man through 7 different perspectives unbalanced? Mr Schofield doesn't seem to have bothered to look at the sections about the forensic archaeologist, landscape archaeologist and peat cutters for example. I would suggest that Mr Schofield gives up the exhibition reviewing or at least applies a bit of balance to his own judgements. Live and let live you fool, if Miss Orr wants to be called a pagan then so what? It doesn't make her lifestyle any more or less valid than yours. She obviously feels a connection with Lindow Man and she's been given a platform, along with many others, to express it. Personally it meant I came away with new ideas about what an Iron Age bog body could mean to me as well as in historical terms. In this sense I found the exhibition very interesting and engaging and I'm sure many other people will find the same despite Mr Schofield's poor quality and subjective journalism.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

I believe the deputy director is actually a Pagan himself.

Regular_ViewerApril 21st 2008.

On the druids, I agree that everyone is equally entitled to their beliefs and just being a druid/pagan shouldn't make you any more ridiculous than any other religion.My problem is that they have no real link to Lindow Man or to any historical belief systems. It's a revivalist religion, attempting to create a belief system based on limited interpretation of limited evidence.Religions like Judaism, Christianity, Islam have a written and oral history that provides thousands of years of genuine heritage. Modern wicca/paganism/druidry has less than 200 years of such heritage.The line is broken, and you cannot restore it no matter how hard you try.I'm extraordinarily offended when such people make statements that imply they are the only ones that appreciate such remains are a fellow human being (as is the case in the Lindow Man exhibition).As an archaeologist I have worked on several sites involving human remains, and you are always profoundly aware of the fact you are dealing with another person. We do not treat such remains in a cold and calculating manner, regardless of how it may seem. There is no disrespect or dishonouring of the dead.If you want dishonouring, you must turn to the people who try to use such remains to further their own beliefs, attempting to appropriate them to create a heritage that is not theirs, purely to give a sense of validity to their belief system. It's plain and simply dishonest.It's especially disrespectful when they want to perform ceremonies over such remains, or even rebury them according to their own traditions (not the traditions of the dead).We must resist such people.Incidentally, I'd also say it's disrespectful when academic pseudo-intellectuals use such remains in an effort to demonstrate just how "right-on" and "cutting edge" they are.It would be great to think the Deputy Director of Manchester Museum was reading these comments and taking them on board.Unfortunately, I suspect such a man will merely see any criticism of proof of his own beliefs.

PeteApril 21st 2008.

In reply to-Anonymous says..“ This is the worst exhibition EVER!”I think anyone who is interested should make a visit and not be put off by such extreme statements.

SpeakerToAnimalsApril 21st 2008.

"it's an experience where people can explore new things from new angles and consider their own feelings about them. You can find out about Iron Age times and indeed Lindow Man plenty by looking on the internet or going to the library."O, sorry for thinking! I thought museums were also about educating and informing the public!I'm not saying that how people FEEL about Lindow man isn't important, but that shouldn't be the only thing offered. "I suspect a number of you are rather missing the point." Given the task of communicating with the public that any public museum certainly has, this supposed missing of the point just says yet again what a bad job this exhibit does, if so many of us can miss the point!"Just because Mr Retired White Middle-Class enjoys his history in prose on the walls doesn't mean the rest of the population does." Well, the issue here is not about format, but about the almost total lack of. Who said anything about prose anyway, we could have plenty of decent and though-provoking pictures, diagrams etc.What certainly doesn't say anything, and is blissfully content-free, is a blank wall. "I wish SpeakerToAnimals would stop ranting. Seems like he/she has a hidden agenda?"Not hidden at all! Anyone who cares to read my comments (or just ask me) can find out what my 'agenda' is. Or perhaps some people just prefer conspiracy theories to facts..........

SpeakerToAnimalsApril 21st 2008.

"My joke about non-PC was that the term doesn't apply. But the provision of education and knowledge does.”My use of nonPC was also a joke!But dear me, you are getting into controversial ground -- provision of education and knowledge! Seems some (those of the many ways to understand camp) would object to our particular definition of knowledge. After all, it is so much easier to develop multiple understandings if you are unconstrained by inconvenient facts. In that sort of fact-free vacuum, all understandings can compete on equal terms. And if we must have dry-old boring facts, lets hide them away in folders, leaving all those empty shelves.........."We are putting very short labels in the exhibition itself but more detailed information will be available for those who want it in the files. Nobody wants to see a “book on the wall..."so lets have empty walls instead! I am just so angry that someone has been allowed to get away with this utter tripe. Manchester University museum has a long and proud history, which people like this are dragging into the mud (or should that be peat). And we've got to put up with this for another year......

JonApril 21st 2008.

I was referring to the perverted comment on Sadjida's comment. Idiot's about right though.

Laugh-a-Lot BearApril 21st 2008.

I went to visit my friend Cheer Bear today. There is an exhibition all about her in Manchester museum. Teddy Ruxpin, My Little Pony and some of my other friends came along too. I was told that Lindow Man was there, and that he looks exactly like Cheer Bear. It was so dark and scary in the exhibition, that I couldn’t see him to make a comparison. Unfortunately Glo Worm had run out of batteries so he couldn’t help. Whilst Wish-Bear longed to be elsewhere, Bedtime-Bear got bored and fell asleep. Do-Your-Best Bear thought the museum had made an effort but Grumpy Bear thought they hadn’t and it was rubbish. We were all disappointed by the Cheer Bear exhibition, but, as we are so fond of the rest of the museum we left Good-Luck Bear behind to help.

Regular_ViewerApril 21st 2008.

Anonymous,Quite right, that was a rather embarrassing mistake on my part in the circumstances! What can I say? I rushed the comments a little. We all make mistakes.Anyway, no, I'm not a staff member, I just happen to have been passed that information from a (very) reliable source."Sympathetic_nonpagan", I don't claim to know what the man is thinking, I merely stated my opinion of what he may think. Based on what I kn ow of the man."Sloppy_Joe", I have passed my opinions to several people at the museum as it happens, in person.I know why it looks the way it does, I still stand by my comments.

Christopher ShermanApril 21st 2008.

This is a very interesting argument but can we get back to the exhibition. What is the point of devoting this amount of space to something which says nothing about the main attraction except in a half hearted way? And if it is supposed to be controversial why is it so boring? Also if it is tax payers money paying for this why is there nothing to be gained from visiting it? Finally Manchester Museum, isn't it an insult to Lindow Man to use this as an experimental space in which to provoke controversy? Now that is definitely not respecting the dead. You are using the corpse of the ancient dead as a tool in your games.

ExhibitionistApril 21st 2008.

So Lindow Man has been re-displayed. However, on seeing the current exhibition it is clear that there is nothing new, all the features of the displays have been rehearsed before, at some other gallery or museum. Comments have been made that it appears to be more an exhibition of the 1980s, rather than of the Iron Age. Certainly the ubiquitous gloom seems appropriate to the 1980s, which Derek Jarman famously termed the longest decade of the 20th century, because it seemed unending.Although the exhibition itself contained no true innovations the peripheral public events did tend to be innovative. One thinks of the 'blessing' of the gallery on Day 9 of the Exhibition, with 90-minutes worth of chanting and drumming orchestrated by MC Gordon the Toad. Even more so was, 'The Verdict' in which schoolchildren in a courtroom setting were invited to speculate on the cause of death of Lindow Man, having heard the evidence. This was truly inspired.Unfortunately, recent thories about the mode of death of the young man were not aired properly in the Exhibition design. The latter, went down the tired old 'ritual' route, when there is reson to suppose that it was insteada more casual case of homicide. Thus, of the three 'wounds' the blow to the head was probably fatal. The garrote was in fact a necklace of animal sinew, from which proably depended a silver pendant like the example on display in the exhibition, and this sinew so shrank oer the centuries that it is now very tight around the neck. Also, garotting normally fractures the thyroid cartilage though it has not happened here. Finally, the cut to the throat was not mortal or perimortem but was instead more recent damage caused by peat-cutting activity. All this ought to have been thoroughly aired.There is also the claimed phenomenon that Lindow Man went to his death 'sky-clad', i.e naked, save for the aforesaid sinew around the neck and an armlet of fox fur. Now, among societies that practised human sacrifice the sacrificial victim was usually attired regally for the occasion, rather than being stripped naked. Again, the opportunity to offer an alternative explanation was missed. I shall address this in due course, at the risk of increased ranting.

Sloppy_joeApril 21st 2008.

And what was the response? Please enlighten us all!

JonApril 21st 2008.

What? This is a bent exhibition?

BigfishApril 21st 2008.

This topic has actually inspired me to go and see what all the 'fuss' is about. Full report on Monday!What has the word 'perverted' got to do with 'bent' though!?

CaroleApril 21st 2008.

I can't believe all the comments regarding the 1980's and the Care Bear!I did not feel there were overwhelming references to the 80's as from what I remember they were contained to just one section. Maybe visitors who make such comments should make some extra time to look around the exhibition in detail.

Christy TurlingtonApril 21st 2008.

I can't understand all of the fuss regarding the exhibition style. Lindow Man is only here for one year then he goes back to London. If you want to see him exhibited in a more traditional way the I suggest you wait until he goes back (you only have just over 51 weeks to go).

Sloppy_joeApril 21st 2008.

Oh, right. It really reads like you respect others opinions from what you've written on here!

BigfishApril 21st 2008.

I'm confused John

SpeakerToAnimalsApril 21st 2008.

If you were really interested in getting kids to want to go and look at Lindow man (and maybe learn something about the Iron age in the process), then what better way than focusing on the grisly aspects! Lets face it, in an age of almost wall-to-wall CSI type programs, a forensics lab style exhibit would have been a great draw! How was he done in, who did it, what was the motive. But posters of carebears? What kid is going to be attracted by that?As to those who seem to keep speculating about my supposed hidden agenda. As I've said before, I'm an academic at the university of Manchester (not in any area at all related to the museum by the way.). I hence naturally have an interest in the public face of the university (of which the museum is one part). I also have an interest in the university not wasting money on lousy exhibits (or lousy buildings -- take the new gasometer that has appeared at University Place!). If I was a disgruntled museum employee with an axe to grind as regards the deputy director --well, this exhibition would make that all too easy :-)

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

Where does it say bent exhibition?!

The PointApril 21st 2008.

James - "You put equal value on all judgements, everybody has a say even though they're unqualified to judge." By this I presume you mean I personally put equal value on people's judgements bearing no relation to their qualifications. Who is qualified to judge about the experiences of those whose lives have been touched by Lindow Man? Taking a standpoint where anyone who has a say must first prove their knowledge and worth is ok in theory I guess but in reality that is not a fair system as not everyone can be given the relevant training in every possible subject on Earth. Take for example democracy, do you think everyone who is allowed to vote is qualified to do so? I think a lot of people have rather ignorant ideas that make them choose how to vote (e.g. assuming any truth in this often-run media story that some women vote based on the attractiveness of the candidate; or more seriously racist ideals) but that is what democracy is. Once we start asking for qualifications we quickly find ourselves in a fascist society where the privaleged get to control and do so in a way beneficial to their own group (i.e. the history we try to move away from to a more liberal society). In the context of this exhibition I'm not sure I can place your meaning. Do you mean those people featured in the exhibition are unqualified to have an opinion about their own experiences of Lindow Man? Do you mean the museum staff are unqualified to produce the exhibition? Do you mean I am unqualified to have an opinion about it? As to the right and wrong, well there is a clear difference in, say, maths, but in culture do you really believe there is a definitive right and wrong? And you say the exhibition is wicked! Cultural morals are ever-changing. What we believe is right and wrong shifts across and within generations. How is this exhibition wrong in any definitive or even contemporarily cultural way? It merely explores a particular angle of process and personal experience relating to Lindow Man. How can this angle be wrong and one examining iron age history be right? I might be inclined to go so far as to say a creationist exhibition in a science museum is wrong as there is no evidence base for the non-scientific theory, but this is not a science exhibition. You can't prove the accuracy of a personal experience. It's fine that you may be dissatisfied with the exhibition content but this is not same thing as it being wrong.I may disagree with some of the things people have said here but that's fine, we're just having a banter because it's fun, but I confess to being a bit frightened by some of the things you imply in your post.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

sounds like an Urbis exhibition to me...

Alan BadseyApril 21st 2008.

Dear Anonymous, it's not only the worst, it's an insult. And to make matters worse again for the museum, they've spent money on this and yet they haven't even got a guidebook to the rest of the absolutely lovely old building. Maybe that would have been in order.

JoeApril 21st 2008.

Mark, fair enough, but for those people who didn't see the original exhibition and expect these events to teach us in a stimulating way about the past - the Iron Age in this instant - what do you say to them? 'Tough, go and look in the folders in the display'. And, honestly, tell me how long did you spend in there?

MeganApril 21st 2008.

I thought the exhibition was a disgrace. Such an exciting topic reduced to boring empty shelves and one isolated exhibit - the 'man' himself, looking as if the authorities hadn't yet decided how to exhibit or label the glass case. It was an absolute travesty of history, of exhibition, of education. I thought that the introductory captions were pretentious nonsense. A school party came in just after I left and, as an ex-teacher, I felt embarrassed that they were being offered nothing that could excite them - it was reduced to the titillation of seeing one dead body, because there was nothing else there for them to look at, identify with and learn from. I brought my own children years ago to see the first exhibition of the Lindow Man. I remember that it showed a lot about the history of the time, artefacts, evidence, contextual information. It was highly visual to stimulate enquiry for children and adults alike, with lots of links to take the enquiries further. And it was colourful, making history study vibrant. Today's drab exhibition would turn people off history totally. Those ring-binder folders on dark empty shelves said it all - closed, boring and tacky, with information only available in archives, for the elite. Ironically, I thought that the empty shelving symbolised the lack of understanding of the exhibition designers. This really was an example of 'The Emperor's New Clothes'! And as for the mumbo-jumbo nonsense of 'respect to dead bodies', I am sick of the sanitisation of death in society today. We need to educate people to accept that death is a part of the life process and absolutely natural, but also that life is the sanctified period, not death. If television news showed blood, mess and body parts after suicide bombers, mine explosions and knife attacks, perhaps the horror would be seen as real and would help to curb violence, even wars. This exhibition could have explored the links between natural and unnatural death. What a huge wasted opportunity, and what a huge waste of money. Any primary-school teacher could create a far more stimulating display, at a fraction of the cost, and they would do what the Museum forgot to do - to teach!!!

SadjidaApril 21st 2008.

I didn't leave a perverted comment Jon, and are you calling me an idiot? If so please explain

SueApril 21st 2008.

Jon obvioulsy has issues.

Annie MouseApril 21st 2008.

Interesting perspectives that the museum is privileging a pagan view over others. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the first section you come to all about the scientist who examined him? I thought there were also three archaeologists in the exhibition. I guess that leaves the scores as - archaeology and science 4 v pagans, peat diggers and Care Bears 3.So a victory for archaeology and science it is then!

An_onymousApril 21st 2008.

What I would want is a workable definition of Paganism, but I think this is impossible to achieve. As written above it simply means 'pre' or 'non' Christian and encompasses a wide spectrum of belief systems. Socrates was pagan, but he didn't subscribe to a "earth-based spirituality". Marcus Aurelius was pagan but didn't practice a "Shaministic belief system". Lindow Man was pagan but the belief system of his times was hardly "gentle, nature-based". I'm sure "gentle" was the last thought on his mind in the moments before his death.If Paganism is defined as a "shamanistic belief system" and "gentle, nature based", then that works only to a small degree as it cuts out most of the pagan/non-Judeo-Christian Umbrella. It certainly has little or no relevance to Lindow Man and certainly does not represent those "best qualified to hold a special link to Lindow Man". I apologise if this sounds like an attack on anyone's beliefs. I'm essentially criticising the museum's privileging of one narrow-belief system in its interpretation of Lindow Man. They should know better.

TomApril 21st 2008.

It states Lindow Man on the poster not Care Bears Retrospective!

Symphathetic-nonpaganApril 21st 2008.

Hey, Regular_Viewer. "Unfortunately, I suspect such a man will merely see any criticism of proof of his own beliefs.” - do you have a hotwire to his brain or something? You seem to know a lot!

SpeakerToAnimalsApril 21st 2008.

<<it's an experience where people can explore new things from new angles and consider their own feelings about them. You can find out about Iron Age times and indeed Lindow Man plenty by looking on the internet or going to the library.>>O, sorry for thinking! I thought museums were also about educating and informing the public!I;m not saying that how people FEEL about Lindow man isn't important, but that shouldn't be the only thing offered. <<I suspect a number of you are rather missing the point.>> Given the task of communicating with the public that any public museum certainly has, this supposed missing of the point just says yet again what a bad job this exhibit does, if so many of us can miss the point!<<Just because Mr Retired White Middle-Class enjoys his history in prose on the walls doesn't mean the rest of the population does.>> Well, the issue here is not about format, but about the almost total lack of. Who said anything about prose anyway, we could have plenty of decent and though-provoking pictures, diagrams etc.What certainly doesn't say anything, and is blissfully content-free, is a blank wall. <<I wish SpeakerToAnimals would stop ranting. Seems like he/she has a hidden agenda?>>Not hidden at all! Anyone who cares to read my comments (or just ask me) can find out what my 'agenda' is. Or perhaps some people just prefer conspiracy theories to facts..........

JamesApril 21st 2008.

I believe that was the point made in the article - the garotting. But I agree with you, museum directors need to remember their own childhood, the stuffed animals are magical, terrifying and delightful. The British birds section also instructs kids in the things they might see in the garden much better than a video or picture would do. This in turn awes them with nature and makes thems more likely to love it and therefore respect and protect it. If the museum ever thought to remove those....then we're done for. Many museums are in crisis because they don't show actual things. My joke about non-PC was that the term doesn't apply. But the provision of education and knowledge does.

SpeakerToAnimalsApril 21st 2008.

As regards respect, who decided that only pagans (buddies of the deputy director BTW) should have their say? Some of us consider that an appropriate way to show respect for this chap would be to give proper information about his life and times, how and why he died, what we have learnt from his remains -- not dump him in what looks like an unfinished kitchen! If his remains had been placed in an exciting, and informative display, where people learnt something, would that not have been much more respectful?Thing is, different folks have different notions as regards respect, but plonk religious belief into it (however lunatic you may consider those particular (or any such) beliefs), and you suddenly get special treatment. Especially if (like the pagans in HAD), you claim some sort of special affinity with our supposed pagan ancestors.

Regular_ViewerApril 21st 2008.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring to new ideas, trying to take a different direction or trying to create some visually unique features.The problem with the Lindow Man exhibition is it's is so preoccupied with such ambitions it fails entirely to deliver what the majority of the museum-goers want.There is absolutely no reason, given the square-footage of space available, that they could not have delivered both the "cutting edge" interpretation and reminiscences alongside a more conventional display that actually passed information on to the visitor.90% of the people who view Lindow Man will want a traditional experience. They want to see the objects, see the body, learn about the time and place, then go.It's all well and good having books and folders, but the fact is most people don't read that stuff.They have failed to deliver on the potential of their theme. They have access to some stunning nationally significant relics (they turned down 20+ additional Bronze Age specimens from the BM), yet have obscured it with a display technique that manages to be both over-designed and amateurishly cheap at the same time. It shouldn't be possible, but they've managed it!I don't object to the exhibition because of it's themes or ambitions.I object to it because it pays no heed to the needs of it's audience, it is there solely to serve the agendas of a few people who think far too much of their own intellects.

MarkApril 21st 2008.

I don't see what all the fuss is about. I thought the exhibition was well worth a visit and it was good to see and hear different reactions to Lindow Man. It was also interesting to see Lindow Man exhibited in a different way. I saw the original exhibition in the 1990's and am glad something new has been done as I would have been annoyed if I had made the visit only to see it presented in the same way.

JoApril 21st 2008.

Jo, I went on the weekend and Lindow Man in Manchester is not displayed any better than he was in London, he's still hidden away. As the review says there's not much here to look at all and what there is very odd, it also seems some of the panels aren't filled in as though its not finished. I was just very confused about what the museum was trying to acheive.

Mr Retired White Middle-Class ManApril 21st 2008.

I gave all the money for these collections to be collected in the first place and have provided the revenue to keep them going.

JamesApril 21st 2008.

The Point's lost it. You put equal value on all judgements, everybody has a say even though they're unqualified to judge. We have a free, prosperous society which arrived here through conflict but also through single mindedness. You seem to be saying there is no such thing as right and wrong. There is. This exhibition is wrong. It's actually wicked in its misuse of public funds and its lack of content to inspire kids.

Champagne SocialistApril 21st 2008.

I wouldn't even say it aspired to Channel 5 in terms of its depth, my money is a curatorial approach developed by the team behind Big Brother. Frankly, it was manipulative and shallow. What's wrong with some expert opinion? It's what you go to a museum for. And isn't it a university museum? Mind you, under President Alan Gilbert's regime at the University of Manchester, they've probably got rid of any real academics and replaced them with 'academic lite'.

Regular_ViewerApril 21st 2008.

I don't think it would be fair to post the contents of a private conversation (I made an exemption for that stuff about other loan material obviously).It was a "lively discussion" and I respect other people's opinions.

Campbell GApril 21st 2008.

Pagan Girl, but what do you think of the exhibition? Isn't it a bit empty?

Josie BorainApril 21st 2008.

I thought the exhibition was fabulous. I loved the innovative use of the exhibition space and unlike many others on this message board I thought a lot of work (and imagination) had gone into the design. I particularly liked the sound booths which provided additional information and thought the overall layout was great and led you on quite a linear journey around the exhibition. As for the "Changing Rooms" comments, well I suppose that was to be expected. Manchester Museum- I don't think people are ready for anything other than glass presentation cases with stickers spoon-feeding them information. Keep up the good work.

BerylApril 21st 2008.

Hilarious.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

This is the worst exhibition EVER!

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

I still don't see how you don't have to see Lindow Mans remains if you don't want to. To me this suggested he would be perhaps hidden behind a curtain and you could choose whether to view his remains after seeing the rest of the exhibition. I don't see how his current display is any more resepctful than his display at the British Museum.

SadjidaApril 21st 2008.

Thanks Jon

TobyApril 21st 2008.

I can't wait to see it! I am going to go this afternoon.

The PointApril 21st 2008.

Having whizzed down these comments I feel compelled to say something in response. Before I begin though I want to make it clear I don't work for the Musueum, or the Uni, before anyone accuses my positive comments as biased. i'd like to put aside comments about the decor as that is aesthetics and will appeal or not to many. Looking more at the content and the angle the Museum has taken I suspect a number of you are rather missing the point.I appreciate the point about the mistake of planing things from an exhibition or marketing angle rather than that of the audience, however, with comments about only displaying things about the Iron Age and providing reams of information on the walls, I suspect those of you coming from this angle only appreciate the views of a specific group of people who like to be fed info in that way in museums. Have you ever considered the concept of widening the Museum audience? Just because Mr Retired White Middle-Class enjoys his history in prose on the walls doesn't mean the rest of the population does. This is a temporary exhibition so it's not like the guy who likes his history that way can no longer get anything out of the museum, however, he probably went last time and learned all about it then and who wants a new exhibition that isn't? What about new people? Young people? People who haven't been to the Museum before? Is it not worth the risk of trying something new in an effort to encourage more and different people through the doors?Lindow Man has been at the Museum before so I ask again, who wants to see the same temporary exhibit twice? The historical info is there in the binders. If you're so serious in finding out about the history then you won't mind spending time looking through the binders and books. The Museum has attempted to look at what Lindow Man means now, not in the Iron Age. The display is about the people involved in discovering Lindow Man's story, not his story itself (which of course you get anyway through their stories). It's about the time he was discovered and what has happened since then. About the sensitivity we the public begin to expect with respect to human remains. Open your minds a little. Museums are places where we learn about culture, not necessary science, history, academia. It's where we consider what things mean to people. A museum is not a textbook with right and wrong answers about everything, it's an experience where people can explore new things from new angles and consider their own feelings about them. You can find out about Iron Age times and indeed Lindow Man plenty by looking on the internet or going to the library. Where can you find out about the views of those who have worked on the body or claim an interest to it on behalf of a group of people?The Museum are engaged in much debate at present about the display of human remains and as such have been and are engaged in much consultation about the exhibition before it was put in place and in the future. The siting of the body is near the back of the room so that people don't happen upon it unawares. The marketing is two-fold. It avoids pictures of the body where people might be offended (nor is it desperately attractive) but it also leads the audience to question the motivation behind the images. Are you expecting marketing to be a dull poster with predictable images and taglines? Perhaps you ought to study marketing a little and learn what it's all about. Of course the posters are meant to raise question and debate, that's what the whole exhibition is about and the best way to entice people to visit!I think I'm done for now...

SpeakerToAnimalsApril 21st 2008.

As regards pagans, and belief systems in general, surely the immediate message of Lindow man is that such belief systems can lead people to thinking that garotting fellow humans and chucking them in bogs is a good thing.........

Paga GirlApril 21st 2008.

Gema, with respect, you missed my point entirely. I was saying that both society and Paganism have moved forward, and yet even in the enlightened times that Jonathan refers to at the end of his article, some people still allow themselves to air an ill-considered knee-jerk reaction to a point of view they happen to disagree with, and worse, are often quite rude about it. There's really no need for that. It's more important an ever in this day and age that we show respect for each other and be civil, and with regard to this particular issue, it is not the Pagans who are being narrow minded and insulting people who think differently. THAT was my point.

Pagan GirlApril 21st 2008.

Well firstly that explains the daft banner outside the museum. When I saw that ridiculously out-of-place Care Bear a few weeks ago I thought I was tripping.As for the inevitable jibes made at the expense of Emma Restall-Orr: it would have been nice if you could have tried to keep things a bit more respectful. It seems that we bend over backwards to accommodate the minority spiritual views of other countries all the time, yet subject the ancient religion of our own land (which pre-dates all the other current mainstream religions by millennia) to derision and ridicule, and at the very least question its validity. Someone mentioned above that contemporary Paganism has its roots in the 19th Century. This is partly true, as it was indeed in Victorian times that much of the old practices were overhauled and updated (sacrifices are no longer practiced for a start)! Like all good spiritual paths, Paganism has evolved to accommodate changes in society and the sciences; taking the main elements of the ancient traditions and blending them with progress made in many fields, and resulting in an earth-based religion which has sensibly moved with the times. Please try to remember that Contemporary Paganism and Shamanic practice is very much alive all over the world, and is respected by many people, even if it's not something they believe in themselves.Jonathan, no-one from the Pagan movement is saying that people who aren't Shamanic priests can't have a strong affinity with the landscape; just as it can't be declared that Christians who aren't priests or vicars can't be deeply spiritual and have a close connection to God. The point is that Emma Restall-Orr has made a long in-depth study of Paganism, and practices this form of spirituality herself. She is not an academic who merely studies ancient nature-based religion, but actually lives and breathes the values of Paganism in all aspects of her life, and for that it seems reasonable to afford her some measure of respect for her expertise in this field.Emma is eminently qualified to speak for the Pagan movement, given that she has been a Druid priest for many years, and has dedicated her life to studying and preserving the landscape, flora and fauna, and the nature-based culture of the people who walked this land before us. Emma's involvement is therefore justified because Lindow Man's death was a ritualistic Pagan one, which makes it appropriate for a Pagan priest to comment, (as opposed to having a Christian leader have input, which someone suggested above). Throughout the lead up to the exhibition, Emma has provided a valuable consultative role, and has conducted herself peacefully and with dignity. By contrast, people with 'mainstream' beliefs have been less civilised. It's bad enough that some of your readers have seen fit to make rather childish and hostile snap judgments about her and the spiritual path she represents, without journalists jumping on the Pagan-bashing band wagon too. It would make a refreshing change if Emma, and indeed all Pagans, could be afforded the same respect as the leaders of other spiritual groups. Finally, I think it says a lot about modern day Pagans that, despite being subjected frequently to this kind of derision and ridicule by journalists and readers alike, their response is generally good humoured and peaceful, and does not attack belief systems which differ from their own. Now would you like to remind me which portion of society contains the 'savages.'

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

Yes, Jon - What the Hell are you talking about??

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

I have no problem with druids - but I do want to see the human remains - that's what fascinates me. I'm looking forward to my visit - but I want to see the body to try to understand that person's life and death.What no-one seems to have mentioned is that Emma Restall-Orr is the other half of one of the high up people at the museum (not sure which one).

Regular_ViewerApril 21st 2008.

Unfortunately Pagan Girl, my experience of several pagans associated with HAD is exactly that. They want to impose their ideas onto human remains, and they do act as if they are the guardians of some notion of "humanity", that all archaeologists and anthropologists are arrogant and cold.I'm not saying all are that way, just a vocal number I've had dealings with.I never said neo-paganism was worthless or ridiculous, I just said it doesn't have any real heritage. If you read what I said, I was quite explicit that they have as much right to their beliefs as any other religion (pick another term if it bothers you).Nor did I confuse Wicca and Druidry or Neo-Paganism. I drew the three together when making a point about "religions" with no direct heritage anymore.I happen to agree that it's unfortunate when we lose aspects of our heritage, but that's human history. Presumably we had a shared belief system 250,000 years ago in Africa, but we have no idea what it was. I can't just impose another set of beliefs and claim that history.Your comment about Charmed was arrogant and patronising, which is ironic really.

Barbra SmeetonApril 21st 2008.

I took my 8yr old daughter for a trip into Manchester and I happened to see the Care Bear on the side of the Museum (I was a bit put off by its blood red eye's but I thought it was just a printing error - the red eyes should have warned me off). As they were very much part of my childhood I though that it was something I could share with her - imagine my (and indeed her ) suprize when we were confronted by a dismembered corpse! Please try and be less cryptic in your advertising in future!

Sloppy_JoeApril 21st 2008.

Has anyone of you lot ranting away in your parochial Manchester-specific netherworld considered passing your comments on to the museum? I went today and despite the crap comments here(some of it quite personal - what's your real agenda here?) it's a challenging exhibition. the museum are inviting comments on their own blog (http://lindowmanchester.wordpress.com/) . Have a read and you may uncover some of the reasons for it looking like it does - and if not perhaps you'll get a response (you never know you may learn something!)

SpeakerToAnimalsApril 21st 2008.

"There are plenty of books on many aspects of things, including history, that relate to Lindow Man, all made available within the exhibition space."Which isn't exactly encouraging anyone to read them, is it? People who read books anyway will learn stuff, with or without museum exhibitions. The point is getting those people who first response is not -- I'll go and look it up -- to learn. It's about taking information out of the books, and putting it into the exhibition space in an exciting way."Do you mean those people featured in the exhibition are unqualified to have an opinion about their own experiences of Lindow Man?"They are of course entitled to their own opinion, but why should the rest of us be in the least interested? If I want to learn something about Lindow man, I'd go and ask the opinion of those who know the relevant boring actual facts, not someone whose opinion is based on ignorance of those facts, and then skewed by their personal religious beliefs.Lets take someone who knows very little about history visiting the museum. They may have heard of mummies from watching horror films, so what is going to interest them? Actually seeing a real mummy, when they might learn something about who made them and why, or seeing something under a sheet? I think most kids which be rather disappointed if they found that pagans (which they've probably never heard of) have decided that it is better to have things covered up.What could we tell them by showing then unwrapped mummies? We could tell them that this used to be the only way to investigate them, but we have better methods now. That such unwrappings used to be seen as entertainment, but that nowadays, we have a different view, which includes a consideration of the ethical issues involved when it comes to displaying human remains. If we wanted to get into religious views, we could think about how in christianity, displaying relics of the saints was a common practiceAs I said before, kids used to a diet of CSI type programs might actually be intrigued to find that our ancestors not only committed fairly grisly murders, but also had some really weird reasons for doing so. Carebears and pagans wittering on about the ancient dead is not going to educate or inform anyone."Once we start asking for qualifications we quickly find ourselves in a fascist society where the privaleged get to control and do so in a way beneficial to their own group"Well, it might surprise you to know, this of course already happens! Who do you think gets the job? The ones with the relevant qualifications! You seem to have a very poor understanding of what fascism was, perhaps you need to learn some history?

Sally TomlinsonApril 21st 2008.

Back to the exhibition. I really think that all regular museum and gallery goers should give it a whirl. It has that reverse attraction thing of the truly awful.

GingeGalApril 21st 2008.

Thanks for the reviews. I'm going to go tomorrow and have a look for myself. I can't wait!!!

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

Yeah, what exactly is a 'bent exhibition'?

An_onymousApril 21st 2008.

I understand that there are multiple viewpoints in the exhibition. But by privileging a "narrow belief system" (is this version of paganism a belief-system?) I meant that the museum privileged that opinion over many others, more qualified, that could have been included. I would ask why this is the case but I think the comment above Annie Mouse sheds enough light on things.

GrahamApril 21st 2008.

Speakertoanimals I'm with you. I love the person who posted before you calling themselves ThePoint, typical of the smug self-satisfied attitude of the idiots who created this exhibition. We're all stupid and they're really clever.

The PointApril 21st 2008.

Mr Retired White-Middle Class Man - I'm glad you've had the benefit of years of oppressing the rest of us and thus the luxury of paying for the collections at Museums. Well done you, a pat on the back. It's quite clear that given the advantages of your extensive education and wealth you are the only audience worth considering and everything in the world should be designed to appeal to you. Where is your Victorian sense of improving the lower classes? Or are you more of the 18th century aristocratic sensibility where the lower orders should not be taught anything except how to work in the fields?SpeakerToAnimals - "O, sorry for thinking! I thought museums were also about educating and informing the public!" Yes, there is plenty of opportunity to be educated and informed at the Manchester Museum. I merely suggest that there are lots of different types of things people can be educated about, many of which lie outside academia. I don't recall saying I had beef with thinking, quite the contrary, I fancy I was condoning some lateral thinking."I'm not saying that how people FEEL about Lindow man isn't important, but that shouldn't be the only thing offered." It's not the only thing offered. There are plenty of books on many aspects of things, including history, that relate to Lindow Man, all made available within the exhibition space. Apparently in your world there is no room to educate or inform people about different jobs or interests members of the population might have that relate to the discovery of Lindow Man."Well, the issue here is not about format, but about the almost total lack of." I'm pretty sure that it's impossible to have a total lack of format. The exhibit exists doesn't it?""A museum is not a textbook with right and wrong answers about everything, it's an experience where people can explore new things from new angles and consider their own feelings about them." What you are describing here is not a museum" I want to hear your description of a museum. I suspect it may answer why most of the population doesn't visit them.I love your "actual facts" comment. Haha! You must think culture and education and information are all static things. As if there are never any changes in interpretation. What a refreshingly dull world you must live in if you think we can ever establish a great directory of actual facts about everything and anything with no scope for discussion, disagreement, different angle or context. It's clear you at least have zero interest in the processes used to discover your so-called actual facts.

andreaApril 21st 2008.

When Lindow man was originally displayed in the musum it was a fantastic exhibition much in the manner suggested in the article. Perhaps this was the museum's attempt to do somthing "modern and different" or perhaps they learnt from the british museum where lindow man was stuffed behind a large pillar and had a tiny plaque with two sentences of description. Personally I preferred the original exhibition!

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

Ahhh. I thought Jon was quoting this from another "rant". Jon is obviously an idiot.

Susan whiteApril 21st 2008.

What on earth is going on at Manchester Museum these days?A professor of archaeology hijacking an exhibition of Lindow Man with his own pagan beliefs and now he's starting on ancient Egypt??? Its ludicrous and above all very unprofessional. The Lindow Man exhibition has had more poor reviews than positive ones. It looks cheaply done and the content is more Urbis than leading museum. By Urbis I mean experimental, cheap and lacking in content. See here for the disaster taking place in the Egyptian galleries: egyptmanchester.wordpress.com/…/If… things in the Egyptian galleries continue this route it won't be long before Bolton Museum overtakes Manchester as the best Egyptian gallery in the north. That's a pretty bold statement considering Bolton's scruffy gallery and humiliation over squandering excessive public funds on a fake statue.There was a massive staff restructuring at Manchester Museum about 5 years ago. Many heads, at the top, went rolling. Lets keep our fingers crossed that they do the same and get rid of the bad penny that is destroying the museum!Susan White

BigfishApril 21st 2008.

Sorry, Jon.. Not John :-)I'm still confused though

JeffApril 21st 2008.

The exhibition is absolutely dreadful. It does look like the 'Changing Rooms' team has designed and built this in 2 days on a budget of £500.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

I think Jo has got it completely right. It's not about what the public want, it's about the people who work there wanting to gain media attention. The controversy will get people through the doors. Visitor figures will be up. They'll probably even get some lame museum award and thus be given more tax payers money to spend on a load of so called forward thinking tosh. Lindow Man would be spinning in his grave. If he had one. But no, he's on display next to a care bear. He must be thrilled. Funny show of respect if you ask me.

champagne socialistApril 21st 2008.

Beryl, my dear, Champagne Socialist is a Lady. And I only drink Bollinger. I'm Bollinger Bolshevik to close friends.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

The word Pagan is a Christian word, initially used to mean "non-Christian" or "pre-Christian". This is in the same way that "Gentile" means "non-Jew". In this respect the following people are pagan: Alexander the Great, Marcus Aurelius, Socrates, Julius Agricola, Hannibal, Boudica, Lindow Man, etc . . . etc. . . Basically, paganism can mean anything not Judeo-Christian. I don't understand how such a broad and varying term can be reduced to a single viewpoint. And then to have that viewpoint claim some attachment and some special right to interpret Lindow Man seems strange.

Susan GeorgeApril 21st 2008.

I think Jonathan Schofield's review is totally devoid of any type of critical capacity. Judging by this I have a sneaking suspicion that he also writes for some of the free rags I receive each week which go straight into the recyling bin.

Pagan GirlApril 21st 2008.

Regular_Viewer, I wonder would you mind telling me WHERE exactly Pagans claim to be the ONLY people who respect Lindow Man's remains? I've seen nothing to this effect, and the Druids I know certainly wouldn't make such an arrogant sweeping statement. Nor would they dream of using a human being 'to further their own beliefs, attempting to appropriate them to create a heritage that is not theirs, purely to give a sense of validity to their belief system.' To suggest that they would is actually rather offensive, given that this would be a total contradiction of their values, and indeed what they are trying to achieve with regard to the exhibit. Also, with reference to the broad term of 'Neo-Paganism': why just because something is arguably relatively new, do you feel it is worthless and 'ridiculous?' I notice you talk about 'religion' in your post. Just to clarify a point; a sizeable proportion of Pagans don't consider their belief system to be a 'religion.' Many practitioners regard this school of thought as a nature-based spiritual path, incorporating the basic elements of the ancient shamanic practices of many civilisations across the globe. Paganism is a broad and very old umbrella term invented (as you yourself said) by Christians to refer to any non-Christian spiritual beliefs. The Shamanic belief system may not be as well documented in literature as mainstream religions and spiritual philosophies, but I think you'll find that any earth-based spirituality has a long and rich verbally-preserved history in countless cultures all over the world, and Great Britain is no exception. It is a sad fact that certain religious factions have persecuted the practitioners of gentle, nature-based faiths into extinction, and this is why so little of their culture remains, and has therefore had to be recreated from anecdotal and archeological evidence. The fact that gaps have been filled with thoroughly-investigated and authenticated modern teachings, such as updated scientific findings in herbal medicine, only serves to augment Paganism and make it even more credible and valid in today's environmentally fragile world. Neo-Pagans hold what they know of the basic concepts of ancient Paganism dear, and not only try to preserve what remains of its history, but also live by its codes of practice (which include respect, peace and balance). As such, of all the spiritual schools of thought in existence in our country today, this group of people are arguably best qualified to hold a special connection to Lindow Man, as their 'faith' is the closest contemporary relation to the religion that your own profession of archeology has determined he practiced in life. Incidentally, on a final note, it might be an idea for you to brush up on the differences between Wicca and Druidry, as I think you might be unclear in this area. Emma Restall-Orr, who is providing a Pagan viewpoint for the museum regarding this exhibit, is a Druid. WICCA is the branch of Paganism which was revived in the Nineteenth Century, not Druidry. With respect therefore, I think it's possible that you are confusing HAD members with fans of the TV series 'Charmed.'

DrakeApril 21st 2008.

The Museum have been trumpeting their canvassing of pagan views with regard to Lindow Man for some time (articles in Museums Journal etc). They seem to believe that presenting views of modern pagans is similar to, say, presenting the views of an Indian historian when considering the 'Indian Mutiny' to prevent the exhibition coming over all Imperialist. Actually, of course, its complete nonsense. It reduces everything to a relativistic stew, and privileges the views of modern pagans (religion founded in the late Victorian era) as more important seemingly than modern archaeologists. Which is weird considering the Director of the museum is an archaeologist. His Deputy, however, is a modern pagan--and therein perhaps lies the story...

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

In response to Laura's comment regarding the visitor not being forced to see the body if they did not want. How did this work exactly? Prior to visiting the exhibition, I was lead to believe that the visitor would not have to view the actual body - I came to the exhibition with my children and wanted them to learn about the Iron Age but not actual see his remains. However, I turned the corner and there he was. There was no warning in order for me to make that choice. The museum seems to have gone back on everything it promised. Frankly I'm disgusted.

Phil DarwenApril 21st 2008.

Hi DaveThey may have got it wrong - and time will tell if that is indeed the case - but it has to be better, in my opinion, than how Lindow Man was displayed at London or indeed last time he visited Manchester. I don't like the unfinished chipboard and I would have liked to have seen more sound bite information to compliment the books - but having read about some of the proposed events I think there should be plenty to excite and stimulate - I'm slightly perturbed that anybody thinks the display of a human being should fill that need.If folk don't like the exhibition that I can understand. What I don't like is some of the comments made that are absolutely false regarding the people involved. Folk have the right to rant against the display but to make personal ill informed, one might even say libelous comments, against some of the people involved can't be justified.

JonApril 21st 2008.

No I was calling myself an idiot and I was making, an albeit weak, play on words with perverted and bent. Now let's move on. I agree with Sally that the exhibition is empty of content. If I was Lindow Man I would be asking the museum in a ghostly way to respect the dead. Maybe his spirit will rise and he'll haunt the museum looking for a better gallery to rest in.

Jonathan Schofield - editorApril 21st 2008.

Thanks for all the comments here. I will be interviewing Piotr Bienkowski, the Deputy Director of the Museum in a week or so. There will be a follow up article addressing some of the concerns and issues raised in the original article and on this comments board.

B QuietApril 21st 2008.

I wish SpeakerToAnimals would stop ranting. Seems like he/she has a hidden agenda?

SpeakerToAnimalsApril 21st 2008.

James:As regards stuffed animals, some other museums I have visited seem to consider such displays slightly embarrassing nowadays, and have removed them. Or consider such displays old-fashioned. Whereas my experience yesterday was that that gallery was full of people.As regards the comments above, some seem to resent being spoon-fed facts. The point is, there may be many ways to understand Lindow man, but many of these ways are meaningless unless they are based on the facts.As regards the pagan debate -- well, todays pagans have no more connection to him than any of us. In my opinion, whoever designed this exhibit should be sacked, and whoever in management let it go ahead ditto. It is an embarrassment to the University of Manchester as a whole.

GemaApril 21st 2008.

Pagan girl excuse me. You say, 'now would you like to remind me which portion of society contains the savages'. What about this paragraph in the review, 'But she might also have pointed out that Lindow Man also teaches us how lucky we are to live in a society which doesn’t think it’s acceptable to bludgeon and garrotte people and throw them in a bog. Maybe Lindow Man teaches us of the dangers of a society ruled by omens, signs and sudden changes of weather: a society which may have worked intimately with nature but was prey to it.' Surely that is important when you talk of savages.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

I went to the exhibition on the opening day. I got there early thinking it would have been packed, however, there was hardly anyone there. I was grateful that the exhibition was free because I was in and out in 5 minutes.

Lindow manApril 21st 2008.

I like people looking at me and all these people talking about me, it makes me feel special. Although I'm glad I've got a thick skin. Shame I don't have some lovely functioning inner organs as well. By the way by real name is Barry.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

I can't believe how bad it is. I am truly truly gutted. I love the story of Lindow Man. How could they get it so wrong?

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

perverted?

Bored at WorkApril 21st 2008.

I probably won't go see the exhibition, not because of any of the opinions posted here, but because I'm lazy and would rather spend my time in the pub. However, I'd just like to say thank you to all the people who have posted comments. A very entertaining and amusing read to fill in my friday afternoon in the office waiting for beer o'clock. Cheers!

marcusApril 21st 2008.

'snip'But she might also have pointed out that Lindow Man also teaches us how lucky we are to live in a society which doesn’t think it’s acceptable to bludgeon and garrotte people and throw them in a bog.Really? we live in such a society?? since when? perhaps since we dicovered that cruise missles, J-DAMS, machine guns and napalm are far more efective than garrottes and bludgeons, also getting other people to do the killing whenever possible.

Red7April 21st 2008.

This beats listening to 606 after the Utd game!

NigelApril 21st 2008.

What is a bent exhibition?

JoeApril 21st 2008.

I'm worried about Jon

JoeApril 21st 2008.

Hello Polly Anna. It doesn't offend me. I just find it a bit odd. There are many museums and galleries to choose from in Manchester. I find it weird that someone would go to the same one five days in a row. But good luck to you.

LindawomanApril 21st 2008.

I just re-read the original article. Did The Point (bless you, for that aren't-I-better-than-you name) read it? If you've been to the museum you must see that it simply fails to entertain or be informative. Now what is a museum based on public funding supposed to do? I would have thought that information and entertainment was key to the experience.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

Nicely said Champagne Socialist. LOVED your comment about Alan Gilbert. SO true. The university has descended into utter chaos since he took over, and frankly the utter crap nature of the Lindow Man exhibit just typifies how useless and trite the institution has become.

SpeakerToAnimalsApril 21st 2008.

<<Will you lot get real.>>Why? Because I happen to think that how we spend public money on museums matters? Because I think it matters how those museums try to educate and inform their public?

JamesApril 21st 2008.

Dear SpeakertoAnimals, how are the stuffed animals unPC - are they racist?

BrendanApril 21st 2008.

Hold on folks, what the Museum is trying to do is brave. I went on Sunday too and while it is low on content, the individual viewpoints are interesting. Maybe with the Care Bear woman they want to start the debate about bringing Lindow Man back here? As for the pagan woman, it's an alternative viewpoint which I'd previously known very little about, so I found it refreshing. I agree that they could have made the actual area where the body was more exciting. It did seem a bit dumped there.

DrakeApril 21st 2008.

Sorry pagan girl, but you should try and find out the history of your own 'religion'. It is entirely invented in the bucolic fantasies of the Victorian era, which contributed meandering historical reificiations of nature worship, the 'celtic' myth, etc. etc (doubly so if Ms ORR is a 'druid', given the paucity of evidence outside of Roman writers we have for what they referred to as 'Druids'--basing a modern religion on what its ancient enemies had to say about it seems bizarre to say the least). The avowed pagan Ronald Hutton (the best writer on the real routes of modern paganism and the complete lack of evidence connecting modern actions/beliefs thought to be hangovers of 'our pagan heritage' with any real pagan past) is clear on that point, even while espousing the religion himself. Just because someone now calls themself a 'pagan' doesn't give them any connection with real pagan practices from pre-history. Of course Ms Orr could have commented on her impressions of Lindow Man as an individual. The fact that the Museum Deputy Director is pushing the myth of some connection between modern paganism and the reality of the life/death of Lindow Man, when there is none, is both sad and somewhat scary.

JoeApril 21st 2008.

The exhibition is appalling. I didn't want to learn about the 1980's. I lived it. I wanted myself and my children to learn about the British Iron Age - a truly fascinating period of history hardly ever touched in Manchester's heritage. This could have been amazing. If I had wanted to look at half finished wood and 80's memorabilia all I needed to do was climb in the attic. Would have saved me the journey.

Christy TurlingtonApril 21st 2008.

I disagree with the above "rant" re: museum staff as I did not realise the message board was set up for only negative comments to be posted.

random commenterApril 21st 2008.

I do feel the need to go and have a look myself now... I have a vague memory a few years back - the museum of science and industry (or MOSIM or whatever it is calling itself these days) did an excellent exhibition of bog people. Not sure if Lindow man was there or not, anyway maybe Manchester Museum wanted to do something a bit different, but forgot that generally people don't want cutting edge exhibitions they want information handed to them on a plate, especially things for kids to do! (Plus can I just say I doubt very much the bodies would be placed under halgen bulbs)Anyway, any publicity is good publicity... feel like I am compelled to go and report back now!

Dave FreudApril 21st 2008.

Dear Phil, classic last line...we are all stupid and the experts know best. In Lindow's case they were wrong, they failed to provide anything either balanced or entertaining and we cannot be expected to applaud being brave when it is crap. Nor can we be expected to read something in folders for hours when there are tens of others going through the exhibition. Did you go round the exhibition say with a friend or family, did you ask them to wait a bit whilst you read the folders? True a lone visit might render some worthy information. Otherwise playing with public money like this with something that doesn't satisfy or excite anybody is a scandal. As for respect, the body just seems dumped in a corner.

Random comments back to youApril 21st 2008.

I don't want stuff for kids to do in an exhibition, colouring in seems like plenty. Plus the room is so small, I'd rather have exhibitions in museums and playgrounds in parks!!

Alan SmeddleApril 21st 2008.

Writing pagan like that is acceptable. There is no formality to paganism as far as I can see. It's a mish mash of ideas without a core belief system. A group of like minded people having different ideas doesn't make a religion. I think the key problem with the exhibition, I called in today, is that it is intellect free. The fact that they did something in a particular way twenty years ago does not make that wrong. As for the folders of information, good that they are they belong in a library not in a museum. Above all this exhibition is arrogant thinking we all should buy into the weird exhibiting techniques used here and condescening thinking that maybe this all we can cope with.

Stephen JordanApril 21st 2008.

If nothing else then this has shown that museums have to be careful with their exhibitions. I'm going to have a gander this weekend too. I just hope the whole exhibition was created with scholarship in mind first and provoking a row second.

JoeApril 21st 2008.

It only opened on Saturday. So that's everyday including Saturday. Oh dear.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

I think you should have put Winnie the Pooh on your posters instead.

AndyApril 21st 2008.

I went to this at the weekend with my son. I remember going to see it when i was in Cubs. There was so much more to it from what i remember like the big house on display outside and all the clothes and items that were used on a daily basis and in battle. But when we got there it looked like something from 'Changing Rooms' we spent 5mins looking around a quick look at the "center piece" and he spent the next 45mins colouring in the pictures they have there for the children. To be honest we had more fun looking at the things weve seen already.Not half as good as i remember from when i was a kid.

BerylApril 21st 2008.

It's obvious Champagne Socialist has been drinking too much "budget" Champagne as his comments are ridiculous.

Pagan GirlApril 21st 2008.

Oh dear, it's rather disappointing that Drake and Alan are reinforcing my point so perfectly for me. It really does make me feel rather sad. Again, in hopefully clearer terms: my point is that often no respect is shown for Paganism, and this is evidenced by repeated unpleasant challenges to our viewpoint, despite the fact that no Pagans here are ridiculing or questioning the validity of YOUR religious beliefs, because, let's face it, that would just be nasty, wouldn't it? The use here of the words 'Pagan' and 'Religion' in inverted commas in the above comments, (i.e. when not quoting from another source) is actually rather insulting, as Kym says, because grammatically speaking, its use by the posters in this forum implies that our spirituality is contested or not valid. This is naturally rather offensive to those of use who follow the spiritual path being discussed. Also Drake, your suggestion that I study my 'religion' more closely is rather rude, wouldn't you agree? If I were Christian or Muslim it would be extremely frowned upon to ask me to justify my spiritual beliefs. Incidentally, I am very familiar with Ronald Hutton's writings, and in fact enjoyed listening to him talk at a Pagan event last summer. Unlike you, it would appear, I am able to listen to and accommodate different perspectives on spirituality without taking offence and being unpleasant towards anyone who espouses opinions I might not completley agree with. I happen to think that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, especially where something as important and personal as spirituality is concerned.To call Paganism a 'mish-mash' was probably intended as an insult, but actually I find that quite complimentary. It's great to be part of a spirituality which is not rigid and frozen in time. Pagans as a group are open-minded enough to be able to embrace many different perspectives and variations of belief within our genre of spirituality, and that is one of the appeals of the path we choose. Frankly it is a joy to be included in a body of people who are not closed-minded, but instead embrace a fluidity of thought which allows everyone to follow their own path, as long as it adheres to the core elements of respect for nature and all living beings, and conducting your life peacefully and with good humour. I wish I could say the same for some of the people here. I feel very sad that a minority of individuals are still so inflexible and let's face it, just plain bad mannered. There are variations of thought within Paganism, just as there are a great many different types of churches within Christianity, yet I doubt you would be so rude as to call Christianity a mish-mash. I completely respect your right to follow whatever spiritual path you choose, or even to opt not to follow any kind of spirituality. That is entirely your choice. It would make the world a more pleasant place if you could afford Pagans the same courtesy. Despite your comments here, I wish you well, and hope that you can see that my attitude, which is typical of most Pagans, illustrates that tolerance and respect for others is a pretty good thing, and maybe if you tried it, you'd find that the world can be a more harmonious place.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

Drake, Drake! Paganism is not a religion, it is a way of life. It was not founded in the late Victorian era, but has existed since the dawn of mankind. It is what was there before religion and has no churches or governing body. It is a matter of personal choice to its practitioners. The symbols close to its heart - the sun, the moon and Mother Nature herself - belong to no-one and certainly were there before any "prophet" spoke to the people of the world - anywhere!! However, there is proof that Lindow Man himself followed Pagan ways and therefore it seems strange to want to use Paganism to dictate his future now.

!!!April 21st 2008.

Good Lord, what an exciting sounding exhibition! I've just been searching online for reviews before I go and see for myself - intriguing! I've not seen a ranting response like this for quite sometime! What've you all got for or against the museum? Some of this seems quite personal.

Polly AnnaApril 21st 2008.

Well I am off from school at the moment so I have a lot of time on my hands. Sorry if you are offended.

SueApril 21st 2008.

Jon- Perverted does not mean bent. Maybe your issues run much deeper than pressing the wrong key on a keyboard. Obviously.

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

Can a representative of the museum (as I am sure they are reading this) please explain to me how the exhibition has been designed to ensure that anyone who doesn't want to see the body can bypass the remains?

JonApril 21st 2008.

Sue, we all have issues, but mine aren't necessarily of the spelling variety.

SartoleganceApril 21st 2008.

I'm intrigued to know how John Schofield himself would have handled this exhibition. I believe that this is in fact a very tricky subject and topic matter for the museum in terms of exhibition. It would indeed be a very dark exhibit indeed, perhaps something like this:You enter a dark room in a group to sit down in chairs around the central display.Dark music is playing, proto-drum rhythms resounding around a steamy chamber. A scream that begins to gurgle into silence, cheering, jeering, mantraic chanting and then a dragging sound. A spot light strikes our star player, the body of the Lindow Man. Over a speaker a brief description of his brutal death is described. No explanation is given as to why he has been killed, indeed we can only assume that it is a ceremonial death since there is not enough evidence otherwise. No first hand testimony anyway.This would be an approach both scientific and artistic to the exhibition; however, is there really no place for religion or superstition in a museum? Any belief is valid, if a group feels a specific attachment to any exhibition, can we really prevent them from letting their feelings be known; indeed, should we? In my opinion the beliefs, note I don't say religion, of Emma or any other people are their own free will. "The only thing you can change is your mind, all else is perception": a paraphrasing of philosophy there I know.If her message is about discovering the beauty and enchantment of the planet, so much the better. Let people remember the magic of the land, the first beautiful discoveries - as children - remembered. It is so easy in modern society to become disenchanted and jaded about what is in effect a marvel and a wonder, the world - for any scientist, pagan, musician, artist would agree given time to think that it is so. This is why it is so easy to stop caring for it.If to some, she helps them spiritually then that is good, people need belief to strengthen themselves; as long as they carefully question such and follow such paths that their personal rational and logic permit. If to others, she only shows them by example that the world should be cared for and they end up recycling a little more... that's great too.A museum is not just a place of reason. People gain what they will through their own codes of logic, and make their own decisions. Any form of inspiration from our cultural heritage will inspire thought. I put to you, that instead a museum is a place of inspiration.

Sloppy_joeApril 21st 2008.

And what was the response? Please enlighten us all!

SpeakerToAnimalsApril 21st 2008.

"A museum is not a textbook with right and wrong answers about everything, it's an experience where people can explore new things from new angles and consider their own feelings about them."What you are describing here is not a museum. Also makes the mistake of thinking that feelings about objects are as important as the actual facts that we can establish about objects (even if we can't answer ALL the questions we may have!).Emotional responses are totally pointless unless they are based on correct facts (such as Lindow man was killed in the distant past, rather than last week, say).

KarenApril 21st 2008.

I love the idea on here that some people think it's twenty years out of date to have exhibitions actually showing artefacts and history displays and talking about the real history we know. Let's get rid of all those fossils and bones in the dinosaur part of the museum shall we and fill it maybe with cups and saucers, with a sign saying 'these are made out of clay, clay comes from the ground, fossils are usually found in or under the ground, how does this make you feel?'

SadjidaApril 21st 2008.

I'm a student at the manchester uni - i popped in to have a look at the exhibition earlier. It looks rubbish btw - and what a complete waste of trees. Why all the empty spaces? Is it not finished? Why have you used a Care Bear so prominently on your posters - when the exhibition is about Lindow Man (???). This is somewhat confusing and perverted.

JoApril 21st 2008.

I've been and it's embarrassing. But worst of all are the people who came up with it. All us poor fools who've been, who've wanted to love this museum, are idiots conned into being part of an experiment and me adding to all these comments is adding to this. I'm sure there will be a meeting soon in the museum in which there'll be a smug grin around the room and someone will say, 'hey did you see that on Manchester Confidential? At least we got a reaction.' Please Manchester Museum tell us this won't happen.

BruceApril 21st 2008.

We obviously visited different exhibitions!!! I found the exhibition to be cutting-edge and totally on a level with exhibitions I have seen in New York, Paris or London. I am always shocked when I read that people (still) want to see items exhibited and displayed like they were 20 years ago. The Lindow Man exhibition space is the Museum's temporary (and experimental) space so this is where more modern examples of display are allowed to be shown. I also thought it was much more respectful to display Lindow Man under subtle lighting rather than blasting him with halogen bulbs. Keep up the good work Manchester Museum.

SueApril 21st 2008.

Obviously not!!!

B QuietApril 21st 2008.

You seem to be mentioning my "hidden agenda" comment quite a bit. Obviously it has hit a nerve. I guess I will see you in the staff room, eh?

AnonymousApril 21st 2008.

Jon says..“ What? This is a bent exhibition?”

This exhibition is wrong!April 21st 2008.

The first thing that comes to mind reading all of these rants is close-mindedness. Are you people even for real? Why are you all rambling about how this should be an Iron Age exhibition? Did the museum at some point in the past ask for your charitable donations to fund an Iron Age exhibition, then spend the money on something else instead? Or could it possibly be the case that all of you amateur curators can't think past your narrow-minded preconceptions of how dull and stuffy museums should be and were disappointed to find that the paid staff at the museum were taking a different approach?"Wicked"? Idiots. There are plenty of exhibitions about the Iron Age all over the country, go look at one of those instead of crying over something that wasn't what you expected it to be.

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