Tollund Man Murder Mystery - interpreting evidence using inference

Get your students thinking and working like historians with this lesson!

I have used this lesson for several years as part of a project on developing history skills in my pupils. Students have to infer and reach a reasoned judgement based on the evidence at hand. This includes primary sources in the form of artefacts and secondary reports.

The class works in pairs to decide why and how the man found in the peat bog in Denmark died. They assess the evidence to decide whether it was:

  • Murder,
  • Suicide
  • Illness/natural causes.

The evidence is not given to them all at once, instead the teacher drip feeds it throughout the lesson. This is in a bid to challenge preconceived ideas and see if pupils will change their minds when faced with new information or sources.
The last task is to write an extended piece (like a DBQ) explaining what the different options were and what they believe happened to Tollund Man based on the evidence they have collated.

The lesson fits with the common core requirement for students to analyse, evaluate and consider causation. It is designed for the UK Curriculum and I have kept in the grade descriptors as these may help you with grading your students as they are skill descriptors: ie: identify, then describe then explain then evaluate at the top end of ability. But if not they can be easily deleted from the slides.

The zip file contains:

  • fully animated and annotated PowerPoint
  • Clues from the crime scene worksheet
  • Answer worksheet
  • Full lesson plan description

My classes have had great fun with this lesson. It can stand alone or be used part of a project on historical skills. If you like this method you may also be interested the following ‘history mystery’ resources in my shop.

I hope you find this useful and enjoyable and that your students have as much fun as mine have over the years!

© A. Hughes (MsHughesTeaches), 2014

history skills social studies mystery cause critical thinking evidence sources argument

This download (free or purchased) is for your own personal use in your classroom or your home. Please do not share my resources with others unless given explicit consent by me. Please direct them to my store instead.

You may not share this download. You may not alter any item in this download, resell and claim as your own work. Similarly, you may not sell or share these resources with anyone and you may not use the contents of this download to create anything for commercial purposes or other commercial products. If you are an education board or school and would like to use my resources district wide, please contact me about licensing.
Amy Hughes (MsHughesTeaches) All rights reserved.

Save for later
  • Tolland-Man-answer-sheet.pdf
  • tollund-man-clue-worksheet.pdf
  • 2.-Tolland-Man-Murder-mystery-lesson-plan.pdf
  • 2.-Tollund-man-murder-mystery.ppt

About this resource


Created: Aug 28, 2011

Updated: Mar 9, 2019


pdf, 35 KB



pdf, 317 KB


Lesson plan

pdf, 132 KB


Report a problem

Get this resource as part of a bundle and save up to 31%

Tes Paid Licence

How can I re-use this?