Revenants of the Past: Vampire burial in Medieval Europe

24th November 2015


Abstract –

Deviant burials refer to all forms of burial, cremation, interment, and practice that differs from what is deemed the standard burial rites for a given population community or culture. Disease, misfortune, deformity and death – or in some cases unexpected longevity have all receive ample scholarly attention for numerous years. Unfortunately however, the mythology and sub-culture that surrounds the vampire phenomenon has remained little more than an anthology of short stories interspersed with trinkets of fact. Over the last several decades a growing wealth of archaeological discovery and knowledge has been added to the plethora of anthropological records already available. These have begun to paint a picture that clearly indicates the beliefs, rituals and fears of contemporary peoples during the period of the burial. In discussing a topic such as vampires and revenants, many of the practices recorded are considered socially deviant and can often include mutilation and dismemberment, restriction of the dead using stones weights or pinning and staking them to the grave. Rituals akin to these indicate a real fear of the undead and of what they will or may become in the afterlife. This paper provides an introduction to the background and some of the more recent discoveries that indicate the extended period of, and reality of these beliefs.


Introduction –

As viewers and readers one can often see the underlying consistencies in vampiric stories and tales, but where do these commonalities stem from? And is the mythology we are led to believe anyway related to the truth, or is it a fictional portrayal intended for a type of perverse human entertainment. Certainly, there is sufficient material attributed to the existence of ghosts, specters, witches, zombies and vampires from a variety of sources. Some of these are taken as gospel, while others promote the vision of vampires as unconscious, soulless entities that harbor ill intent, and a desire to drain the living, both of blood and the essential will to live. It is neither the intent of this paper to delve into the accounts of vampires of contemporary pop culture, or as a metaphorical entity to depict stages and relationships of, and in, modern society. This paper, rather than focusing on aspects of mythology aims to portray a true depiction of facts surrounding reported vampire burials in selected areas of Medieval Europe, to briefly examine the similarities and differences in burial practice, and to pose a general explanation for such deviant practices based in historical context. However, in order to adequately cover this area, an appreciation and understanding of the underlying folk beliefs and superstition is necessary, since it would appear that every generation has its own depiction of a “vampire”, as many of these passed through generations in the form of popular literature. Furthermore, it is the endeavor of this paper to cover several major issues. The first being to define exactly what is being discussed in regard to the terms revenants, and more specifically vampires, and to propose the foundation of the terminology. Following this, to provide an historical context for the period in which the burials, both in Poland and other areas mentioned, were conducted. Finally to consider the descriptions of the findings and provide an historically plausible explanation for the unusual manner of their burial

The concepts, ideas and symbolism associated with vampires in popular, contemporary culture is something that many can relate to, either on the screen or as an aspect of literature as a personification of the age. As immortal parasites living off humanity, they stretch back through mythology and folklore and into a perceived reality which stems from perhaps some the earliest of recorded histories, including those from the ancient Mesopotamians who feared the demon goddess Lamatsu who is portrayed as bringing fever and disease, “slaughter[ing] the young men,… oppress[ing] the girls… pull[ing] out the children and … going after the tracks of the cattle, [to follow] the tracks of sheep [to put] her hands in the flesh and blood” (Herausgegeben von Kühne, 2010:244). Similarly should we wish to peruse the development of folklore through the ages, we would then follow the connection to Lilith a being who figured in Jewish texts, Lamia and the tales of the Empusai from the Ancient Greeks, perhaps even the Indian Rakshasa and Vetala, or the Chinese Kuang-shi. Whichever starting point we choose it is likely that the folklore of blood-sucking demons and spirits was carried to Europe where it took hold and inspired the folklore of Eastern Europe. According to Melton (2011:xxii) the earliest reference to the emergence of a vampire mythology in Eastern Europe was in a document dating back to 1047 that made reference “to a Russian Prince as Upir Lichy, or wicked vampire”. Similarly, Gregoricka et al. (2014:2-3) claim that “The term vampire probably originated from the Slavic expression for revenants, including vampir and upir/upyr/upiór, also similar to uber, the Turkish word for witches… here …[it] refer[s] to the beings of early Polish folklore: an unclean spirit that reanimates a corpse and wreaks havoc on the living”.It is perhaps important to note that the Russian Upir (Upyr) was considered a heretic, a sorcerer, a person who did not believe in Christ, or a person who was considered a sinner by some other means (Gregoricka et al. 2014:3). Individuals deemed as heretical, sorcerous or non-believers, in keeping with Church doctrine and dictate, were removed from their congregations, and banished from the communities. Since they apparently did not follow the tenants of the church and God, it was believed that they must be the servants of the Devil, and as such, upon death susceptible to possession and reanimation by a demon, and forced to walk the earth again (Gregoricka et al. 2014:3). Similar stories can be found in the works of Walter Map (see Appendix 1) and William of Newburgh, both of whom were writing during the early twelfth century. Following this period many of the prominent tales recounting vampires jump to the fifteenth century with the stories of the Romanian Prince Vlad Țepeș and then again to the deeds of Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, a renowned Hungarian serial killer of the mid-sixteenth century. It is not until after her death in 1614 that scholars – whose works remain for contemporary examination – really began to take notice and create lasting records of vampiric belief, tradition and folklore.

Beginning in 1523, and lasting throughout the eighteenth century, even into the nineteenth century in some areas, there were a series of “vampire hysterias” throughout Eastern Europe (Penke 2012:499). Davanzati (1774:159) maintained that the existence of vampires was purely imaginary, “la nostra sola fantasia è l’unica ragione di tutte le strane e meravigliose apparenze di tanti spettri o fantasmi d’uomini morti[1], and that their existence could be attributed to the strong belief held by people of their reality, and through the claims made by individuals who suffered from their misdeeds. It is primarily through the discovery, and examination of tangible remains, years later, that expert historians, archaeologists and anthropologists have been able to determine the extent of individual burial sites, as well as the scope and depth of societal vampiric traditions and beliefs. The “popularity” of searching out, and providing an explanation for vampire burials is a recent academic development, and has resulted in the circulation of four general forms of literature. The first is typically historical texts which are frequently written by clerics, monks and predominant members of the church. These form some of the earliest records, though often do not specifically reflect the term vampire in preference to revenant or simply demon. Most notable among these are the early works of Walter Map, De Nugis Curialium (Trifles of Courtiers), and William of Newbergh, Historia rerum anglicarim (The Chronicles (or history) of England), alongside later treaties such as Dom Augustine Camlet’s (1759) Apparitions of Angels, Daemons, and Ghosts, and concerning the vampires of Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia, and Silefia. The second, are the timeless collections of secondary sources that feed popular belief, such as the stories of Vlad Țepeș (1431-1476-77), Goethe’s, Bride of Corinth[2](1797), Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s, Cristabel (1797-1801). Many of these were written in the late 1700s and throughout the 1800s, with perhaps the most well-known books being published just prior to the turn of the century – Bram Stokers, Dracula (1897) and Rudyard Kiplings, The Vampire (1897). The third collection of works, drawn upon during this paper, are articles and documents that take the form of popular mass media and news reports such as the Sofia Globe,, National Geographic, and Archaeology News Network. These serve both the purpose of advising, or educating, but are also an interest topic that explains much about our own social demands and interests. The fourth and most important are the scientific analysis conducted on the remains that have been, over the last decade, recovered throughout Europe. It is these early primary sources, and academic-based reports, supported by popularized media, that will serve to provide the core material used during this discussion.

During the last decade there has been a growing amount of publicity surrounding reported evidence of vampire burials. The belief in these creatures as attested by Barrowclough (2014:1) was “widespread across central, Eastern and Southern Europe throughout the Middle Ages”. In these areas strong connections were drawn between vampirism and pagan spiritualism, which with the incursion of Christianity during the tenth and eleventh centuries, and the practice of inhumation gaining prominence over more traditional methods of cremation, rapidly spread across the region (Żydok 2004:57 cited Gardeła 2013:785). Traditions dictate, that those most likely to return to the living as vampires included drunkards, thieves, murders, victims of drowning and suicide, the unbaptized and, of course, witches (Miller, 2012; Barrowclough, 2014:1; Barber, 2008:116). While belief in causes and methods of dealing with vampires varies regionally, most concur that, besides consuming human blood, vampires were the cause of disease, especially epidemics and plagues that afflict both humans and their livestock (Blaszcyzk, 2014). Many of the deceased who inhabited these broad social categories were provided with what is now regarded as a deviant burial.[3]

Part 1 – Bulgaria and Slovekia and the Czech Republic

The areas of Bulgaria and Slovekia, as well as the Czech Republic have provided numerous accounts of excavated burials, about 100 in Bulgaria alone (Day & Alexander 2014; Miller 2012), where an object, best be described as a stake, had been driven through the heart or chest of the individual. Typically Archaeologists interpreted skeletons pierced through the chest, with iron artifacts, as vampires who have been secured in a manner commonly associated with superstition and myth that prevents the corpse from turning into undead and rising from the grave (Barber 1988: 124-126; Miller 2012). Burial practices such as these, involving the insertion of iron spikes through the chest, was common in rural communities until the early nineteen hundreds (Affleck 2013; Miller 2012). One such case reported the unearthing of a man’s skeleton, in 2014, at the Thracian site of Perperikon in southern Bulgaria, an area close to the border of Greece. These remains were, according to Nikolai Ovcharov, a vampire grave that dated to the thirteenth century (Mastroianni, 2014; Day & Alexander, 2014). Day and Alexander (2014) report that the skeleton was “believed to be of a man aged between forty and fifty and had a heavy piece of ploughshare – an iron rod, used in a plough – hammered through his chest.” Additional measures had also been taken to ensure that this individual remained unable to walk amongst the living again. Researchers reported that the left leg had been amputated below the knee, post mortem, and buried beside the skeleton (Mastroianni 2014, Day & Alexander 2014).

Similar finds were also reported from the 2013 discovery made in Sozòpol, Bulgaria, of a fourteenth century crypt burial. Both were uncovered by archeologist Dimitar Nedev. The burial in the Bulgarian Black Sea town of Sozòpol, commonly referred to as “the twin vampires of Sozòpol”, provided evidence of a ploughshare‐like object having been driven through the left side of the rib cage (Miller 2012). The second of the “twins” had an unidentifiable metal object driven in his solar plexus (Brunwasser 2012:13; Zolfagharifard 2013; Mastroianni 2014; Day & Alexander 2014). One explanation provided for such a high number of “vampire burials” was as a result of significant portions of the rural population being practitioners of Manichean Bogomilism, a dualist religious sect with the belief that the world is inherently an evil place. Later populations retained many pagan elements of this belief, including the practice of staking the heart during burial (Miller 2012).

In 1991, archaeological work conducted in Prostějov, Slovakia, researching similar burial practices found that the ancient church of the Holy Trinity maintained a sixteenth‐century crypt burial in the presbytery. This particular find illustrated the extreme lengths taken by a population consumed by fear. The lower limbs of the corpse had been separated from the body, and large stones used to weight them and prevent posthumous movement. Reports go on to say that having done this the entire body had then been buried in a coffin reinforced with iron bars[4] (Affleck 2013). The positioning of heavy stones and other weighted objects over the body, or parts of the bodies, is a common practice that can be found in many regional locations across Europe, and is frequently associated with deviant, or vampire burials, in these areas. Writers at the Sofia Globe (2014a) record the Archaeologist Alexandra Petrova as commenting that, “placing a stone on the chest, notably over the heart, was part of an anti‐vampire practice that could also involve stabbing the corpse with a stake or iron knife. The aim was to prevent the deceased’s return to the world of the living”.

Another example from this region was the excavation of the tenth to eleventh century cemetery of Celákovice, in the Czech Republic, about 30 kilometers north of Prague. This excavation produced more than a dozen sets of skeletal remains each with metal spikes of varying descriptions impaling the body, or weighted with heavy stones. The majority of the graves exhumed were those of young adults, both male and female. Researchers at this site believe that these remains date to between the eleventh and twelfth centuries and that that they all died around the same time. Such data, collated at a single site, would typically lead researchers to speculate the likelihood of an epidemic, however there is no evidence to explain the folkloric belief that these individuals were at greater risk of becoming vampires than any other (Affleck 2013).

Although the belief in the vampiric entity is consistently depicted across the European continent burial methods differ, at times subtly while at others significantly. A prime example of this difference can be seen in vampire burials which include a stone or object, such as a brick, inserted in the mouth of the corpse. At Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the skeletal remains of an individual was found buried in a westward supine position, with a fragment of brick inserted between its teeth, and an intact heavy clay tile placed over the head. According to reporters at the Sofia Globe staff (2014b), this skeleton, one of eighty unearthed in a necropolis, in Plovdiv’s old town area, dated between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Similar practices of placing brick and stone fragments into the mouths of the deceased exist in Italy, especially of those considered at risk of rising as undead, such as criminals and plague victims. This led archaeologists to interpret the burial as one associated with vampiric tradition and belief (Sofia Globe staff. 2014b).

Part 2 – Italy and Greece

The areas of Italy and Greece, with their long interlocking and clear documentation of their histories provides numerous stories and tails of creatures that could be attributed to vampiric like entities. Unfortunately very few of these can be referenced as known occurrences, as a result of their failure to appear in the archaeological record. However, in 1994 on the Greek Island of Lesbos, near the city of Mytilenethe, Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Tenth Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, working in the area discovered a staked and nailed adult male skeleton. The medieval skeleton was discovered in a stone-lined crypt hollowed out of an ancient city wall, and “while most of the other burials [in the cemetery] were simply in winding sheets in the earth, .. [h]e was also in a heavy but nearly completely decayed wooden coffin” (Pringle, 2013). During examination it was found that the individual had also been “nailed” to the coffin, with several eight‐inch‐long iron spikes inserted through the neck, pelvis and ankle (Williams 1994:22; Pringle 2013). Vampiric folk traditions openly recognize on the necessity of staking a vampire through the heart, even if there is some division pertaining to the reasoning behind this (Barber 1988:124). Lesbos traditions hold that iron stakes were to be used to pin the body to the ground – an alternative, and believed more effective measure, due to the “magical properties of iron”. In other areas across Europe it was more common to see the addition of stones and blocks to weight the body and prevent it from rising from the grave (Barber 1988:126). The use of iron and the practice of staking a corpse are both well‐documented in vampire folklore, and support the assertions made by researchers that anti‐vampiric precautions were enacted by those burying the body, to ensure that it does not rise from the dead (Barber 1988:124-126). Williams (1994:22) remarks that this is particularly noteworthy, being the burial of a Moslem man, since this form of internment was predominantly associated with Christian practices. It would be plausible to speculate that it was this individuals “outsider” status that led the townsfolk to fear his return after death.

Further evidence in support is drawn from the Vampire of Venice, uncovered in 2006. Discovered by archaeologist and forensic anthropologist Matteo Borrini while excavating a pit containing the remains of plague victims, on the Italian island of Lazzaretto Nuovo, two miles northeast of Venice. Dated to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the vampire of Venice stands out as non-typical even in context among other deviant burials. Dubbed by the media, “The Vampire of Venice”, Borrini interpreted the remains to be those of a mature – elderly given the period – female who died during the 16th century. The remains were found with a brick inserted into the oral cavity, and were dated to the Venetian plague of 1576 (Patel 2009; Miller 2012). Based on the represented evidence of the brick alone, Borrini claimed the burial to be vampiric in nature and referenced the folk tradition of placing a brick into the open maw of an individual suspected of being a vampire to prevent a vampire from feeding (Miller 2012). Borrini stated that gravediggers jammed the brick into the woman’s mouth with sufficient force to break some of her teeth (Squires 2009), a likely indication and result of fear. During this period there was a strong belief that epidemic diseases and plague, were believed to be a result of the nachtzehrer[5]. Under pandemic conditions, where plague decimates the population, it was common practice to reopen tombs and mass graves to bury other victims (Dell’Amore, 2009). Such practices exposed often uneducated gravediggers to partially decomposed bodies, still undergoing the process of epidermolysis (Dell’Amore, 2009; Patel 2009). Borrini, in an interview explained that epidermolysis is the process:

in which the epidermis loosens from the underlying dermis and the nails fall off, exposing the nail beds and giving the impression of new growth. At the same time, the corpse would be going through the putrefaction stage in which the abdomen gets bloated from the build-up of gases. The decay of the gastrointestinal tract contents and lining create a dark fluid called “purge fluid” that might flow freely from the nose and mouth and could easily be confused with the blood sucked by the vampire. And if a corpse was wrapped in a shroud, putrid gases and purge fluid flowing from the mouth would moisten the cloth so that it would sink into the mouth (which would open as the muscles relaxed after rigor mortis), where the fluids would break it down. So the legend that corpse could eat through its shroud is a real observation that was interpreted without the proper medical knowledge. (Patel 2009).

Borrini linked the burial at Lazzaretto Nuovo with the nachtzehrer superstition not only because the skeleton was buried in a plague grave, but also because of the brick found in its mouth. Borrini argues that while these beliefs are not unique to this particular burial, “this is the first vampire grave studied from all angles–archaeological, forensic, and folkloric” (Patel 2009). Borrini further asserts during the interview that the research undertaken, following the discovery at Lazzaretto Nuovo, functions to:

  • support the medieval belief that vampires were responsible for the spread of plague and pestilence(Patel 2009)
  • provide useful evidence of past beliefs and traditions; clearly illustrates how, in the absence of scientific knowledge, the human mind can misinterpret the reality to create “monsters” (Patel 2009)
  • helps … authenticate how the myth of vampires was born (Miller 2012).

Part 3 – Poland

As an area Poland has featured frequently in mass media around the world, and numerous journal and academic publications, as a response to the uncovering on multiple deviant burials, suspected or recognized as complying with the traditions usually associated with vampire burials in the area. In 2013, archaeologists uncovered a series of four sets of skeletal remains that they believe were characteristic of vampire burials in the region during the sixteenth century. Discovered on a building site near the southern town of Gliwice, the unearthed graves contained human remains that had been decapitated and the heads placed between their legs. Tradition records that those accused of being a vampire would sometimes be decapitated, or alternatively they would be hung from a gibbet and left to rot until the head dropped from the body (Blake 2013). According to a one report “decapitating a suspected vampire was common practice in medieval times because it was thought to be the only way to ensure that the dead stay dead” (Blake, 2013). In these cases, the head, during burial, was placed between the legs in the belief that without their head the corpse of the alleged vampire would be unable to return from the grave (Blake 2013). Historians say that the practice was common in the Slavic countries following the adoption of Christianity (Day 2006; Armunanto, 2013). Even in contemporary society, rural occupants in remote communities still hold to traditional folk lore beliefs. There are several more case stories which report the use of garlic, crucifixes, exhumation, staking through the heart and even of making potions from the ash of the vampires’ burnt heart to cure the afflicted. Similarly in 2012, near the town of Gliwice, workers on a site of two overlapping church grounds, used between the sixth and seventeenth centuries, uncovered some 600 sets of remains. Of these four were categorized as deviant, vampire burials.

Another case comes from the 2008 to 2012 series of excavations undertaken in which a number of suspected vampire graves were discovered in the market area, of Kamień Pomorski, North West Poland. Also known as Drawsko 1 cemetery this area was in usage periodically between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. Gregoricka et al. (2014:4) write that during the excavation approximately 285 sets of primary inhumation human skeletal remains were recovered from the area. These remains represent both sexes and are of all ages, many of which date to approximately the sixteenth Century. Although this is not considered unusual for a cemetery, there were six individuals amongst the collection that were termed deviant burials “due to their non-normative mortuary features and apotropaic inclusions involving anti-vampiristic alterations” (Gregoricka et al. 2014:4). Several reports indicate that the six deviant burials were not concentrated together and is suggestive of different internment times, however the absence of personal effects makes it difficult to pinpoint an exact time period. Gregoricka et al. (2014:4) record in detail that these individuals included one adult male (28/2008), one late adolescent female (6/2012), three adult females (24/2009; 60/2010; 49/2012), and a subadult of unknown sex (29/2008). They also record the placement of sickles across the abdomen of five of the six individuals as well as the positioning of stones on two of them, beneath their chins. Interestingly in this region it can be notes that practices were not sex specific nor were these remains segregated in any way from other non-deviant burials interred during the same period  (Gregoricka et al. 2014:4).

Media reports indicate that in at least one case “The teeth, or “fangs” had been removed and a fragment of rock had been inserted into the mouth. In addition, his leg held evidence of a puncture type wound where it was thought he had been staked in order to prevent the body from rising from its grave” (Smith, 2014). Others record that each was interred in a supine position following an eastern west orientation. The two older adults were buried with the inclusion of an iron sickle placed across the neck to pin them to the ground, since sickles made of iron were deemed to possess the ability to ward off evil, while the younger was tied and stoned (Barber 1988:126). Stoned in this context refers to the placement of heavy stones or weights on top of the body, either all or like in this case in part across the throat. Traditional beliefs claim that both of these methods were an effective means of keeping the vampire in the ground so that it does not arise to cause mischief. (Affleck 2013; Błaszczyk, 2014). Each of these steps, researchers believe, were taken as a precaution to prevent the individual from leaving the grave, and further evidence of the vampiric nature of the burial (Chubb 2014). In reality though it was much more likely that each of these means, the sharp cutting edge of the sickle and the crushing pressure of heavy objects, acted as a method of deflating the bloated corpse of the individual suspected of vampirism. Eastern European folk law holds a known vampire tradition that dates back to the 11th century AD but it is possible, and likely, that it existed earlier.

Part 4 – The United Kingdom and Ireland 

The inclusion of the United Kingdom and Ireland into the background of this paper highlights the diversity in culture foundation and the vast distance that customs and beliefs associated with vampirism had traversed. The first of two examples provided was the discovery of two sets of male remains dated to between the seventh to ninth century, at a site overlooking Lough Key at Kilteasheen, Knockvicar, County Roscommon in Ireland. At this site researcher Christopher Read exhumed the skeletal remains of a male, between forty and sixty years of age, and a young adult believed to be between twenty and thirty years of age. Both males were buried side by side, together in a single grave (Owen 2011). Excavation reports note that, one of the sets of remains way in a supine position with his head straight and a large black stone inserted between the teeth, the second set of remains, similarly buried in a supine position had his head turned to the side and an even larger stone wedged between the teeth, almost dislocating the jaw (Clancy 2011; Owen 2011). Killgrove (2011) also makes mention of a heavy stone also being places on the torso of one man. These remains presented a quandary to archaeologists since they exhibited identical characteristics to later sixteenth and seventeenth century vampire burials, but were interned nearly one thousand years earlier, well before the emergence of European vampiric folklore. Despite the initial conclusion, that the ritual of inserting a stone into the mouth was directly related to vampire slaying (Owen 2011), archaeologists are unable to account use of such practices in eighth century burials

Similarly, during an excavation of Southwell in Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom, the remains of an individual, dating to the Anglo‐Saxon period, AD 550 to 700, was unearthed exhibiting similar characteristics to those found in later vampire burials. The remains clearly showed metal spikes that were used to pierce and pin the body through the heart, shoulders and ankles. Affleck (2013) notes that “[t]he placement of a spike through the heart in particular attracted public interest because of its long association with vampires in myth and legend”. Had such a find occurred in areas of Central or Southern Europe where strong traditions and folkloric beliefs surround the existence of vampires, it would have been readily accepted as conclusive evidence of vampiric tradition. More skeptical of such an early tradition arising in the United Kingdom archaeologists only suggest that this find establishes the existence of similar or identical burial traditions in the archaeological record that resemble those of ‘vampires’.


Part 5 – Similarities and Differences 

During the middle ages despite extensive interaction and cross marriage between the royal families of the period, folk lore, mythology and tradition typically remained independent. Although this is true to a certain degree when examining the deviant burials associated with suspected vampires, a considerable amount of similarity is also noted outside the regional differences. The internment of individuals suspected of being vampires, or revenants, or subject to demonic possession, would typically be noted as deviant burials which, “in the archaeological record refer specifically to those interments that differ from standard burial rites for a given community or culture” (Reynolds cited Gregoricka, 2014:2). In the context of this article the notion of any deviation is obscured, since classification of deviation may resound as culturally normal within a given context. Map (1914:100) records the earliest instructions as to simply, “Attamen effodiatur corpus illud, et collo reciso fossorio conspergatur ipsum et fossa magna aqua benedicta, et reponatur” [ …exhume the body, provide a benediction, and sprinkle it with holy water before reburial][6]. Przemysław Żydok (2004:44, cited Gardeła 2013:782), provided deeper clarification on this in an article on atypical burial practices. He constructed the following list of “categories” perceived as deviant funerary behavior in medieval burials:

  • Decapitated burials (sometimes with the skull placed between the legs)
  • Perforated/pierced skulls (with a sharp instrument, perhaps an iron nail)
  • Knives, stakes or other sharp objects stuck in the body
  • Stones, clay or coins in the mouth of the deceased
  • Prone burials[7]
  • Stoned burials (large stones placed directly on the body)
  • Flexed burials
  • Burials of individuals with cut off or broken limbs
  • Burials in marginal areas
  • Lack of grave goods
  • Unusual orientation of the grave
  • Partial cremation of the deceased
  • Reopened burials.

Although any of items on this list may be interpreted to indicate the possibility of ‘anti-vampire’ practices, all due care must be given. Żydok (2004:44-5, cited Gardeła 2013:782) argued that, while each of these marks a profound deviation in the burial customs and practices of Christian funerary norms, it is not possible to directly link all to contemporary period beliefs in revenants, or that they reflect and intentional apotropaic practice. Each of these burials in their own way regardless of location provides valuable insight into the extensive social construction of individual and collective beliefs and ideologies among the living[8] (Parker Pearson, cited Gregoricka, 2014: 2). Such studies also lead to an increased understanding of the probable existence of an early mimetic movement across large areas. According to Aspock (cited Gregoricka, 2014: 2) though burials provide an important source of information on identity from a very different perspective to what we typically seek in that it is part of a folk culture in which, for some unknown reason, condition of death, or social condition that exerted influence during the individuals life time, a normal burial was denied. One explanation comes from Barber (1987: 117) who claims that many deviant burials were people who had died suddenly in “good health” (suicide and murder victim), since they took longer to decompose. It would have been likely that decomposition changes would have been much more noticeable in these individuals than those who had wasted during a prolonged illness.

Taking such influences into account, alongside geographical location, it is possible to attempt to group deviant burials of similar kind and to frame them with in a known era. This can then be used to compare similarities and differences relative to period-relevant events in specific regional areas. Maps I and II depict a regional anomaly. Poland and Hungary, unlike many of the other states that had come to maintain reasonable stable borders by this time, continued to expand. Poland claimed areas of Russia along the border of Hungary (present day Ukraine), while Hungary stretched along the Adriatic coastline to the border of Greece. During this time Slovakia was part of Hungary, while Bulgaria remained an independent neighbor. The Italian peninsula (present-day Italy) and Greece had already been grouped as part of the classical age, as a result of a long tradition of the exchange of knowledge, ideas and thought. Areas of the United Kingdom remained largely independent.

Part 6 – Conclusion and a broad plausible possible explanation 

Archaeological records, and the interpretation of history that these provide, show that for as long as mankind has maintained a systematic process of burial alongside a belief in the possibility of entities returning from the dead, there has long been a fear of their dead rising up to terrorize the living. Collectively scholars need to be cautious in presuming that all such unconventional, deviant burials result from a fear of vampires. The deviant practices described in this paper, including staking, decapitation and covering with stones while important to make a case, can also be frequently attributed to the prescribed punishments for criminals, suicides, plague carriers or even witches rather than the suspect or potential vampire. An example that highlights this point is in 2008, a team of archaeologists unearthed a four thousand‐year‐old grave in Mikulovice in the Czech Republic. The skeletal remains showed that the individual had been weighted by two large stones placed on both the head and the chest (Hickman 2013). Had these remains been dated to the medieval period, or even slightly older, there is little doubt that claims would have been made to the deviant nature of the burial as a result of anti-vampiric practice.

Keeping this in mind and in analyzing the sources that have come from many fields and physical locations across Europe, there are a few things that stand out as immediate commonalities. One of the most obvious similarities is that the concentration of reported burials have been uncovered in areas that were heavily influenced during a period marked by strengthening beliefs in Christianity, and held an underlying permeation of folk beliefs, including a belief that the actions of the dead were able to influence the living. Barber (2008:197) claims that: “The dead are blamed for sickness and death: death comes, in other words, from the dead, who, through jealousy, anger, or longing, seek to bring the living into their realm”. Such beliefs could, as suggested by Holloway (2014), predate the Church’s use of vampirism as a fear tactic to threaten the population with excommunication and damnation. With the decline of the European witch craze, the rise of a new “demonic” threat of possession and evil would have been required.

While variations in burial practices do exist regionally, most exhibit a few notable core customs, such as the insertion of a brick or rock between the teeth (Holloway, 2014; Borrini, 2009:1634; Betsinger, 2014:471; Dell’Amore, 2010) – some cases have been recorded as having completely removed the teeth – the idea of exhuming the body and reburying it with benediction and a liberal dousing of holy water (Map, 1914:100), and the pinning or holding of the corpse to the ground using a metal object. Alternate deviant practices have included the decapitation (Map, 1914:100; Blake, 2013) of the bodies and placing the heads between their legs and the placement of a large stone slab or other weighty objects over the body to prevent it from rising. Regardless of the geographic local, it appears that during this period there was an interconnection of methodology and ideology that permeated the burials that occurred. According to data retrieved from Brugl (2001), in each of the areas where deviant or vampire burials have been recorded to date, there is a predominant association with plague and / or sickness in the same, or near areas during the time of internment. This presents a distinct correlation between illness, disease, limited knowledge of human anatomy – specifically internal -, the decay process post-mortem, and the perpetuation of supernatural beliefs. Barber (1988:3 cited in Keyworth, 2006:256) sets forth the notion that individuals “mistakenly identified as being undead, … were blamed for outbreaks of pestilence by a populace that, at the time, lacked the proper grounding in physiology and pathology ”. There appears to have been a long association with the rising of the undead and extreme health hazards. Betsinger (2014:473) follows this reasoning in claiming that those interned in Poland were a result of cholera outbreaks, while Borrini et al. (2012:221; 2010:1634) expresses the belief that the Venetian vampire was a plague victim.

Blake (2013) takes the ideas of sickness and epidemic a step further, and addresses the possible explanation for the firm belief in vampires as a result of the church, and the threat it carried of eternal damnation among a peasantry already decimated by plague. He also offers a reasoning for specific mythology founded on the notion that “vampiric folklore largely flourished in Eastern European countries and Greece, where they did not have a tradition of believing in witches. And just as with witches …, the vampire became a scapegoat for a community’s ills”. Such differences in beliefs also provides a justification for Dell’Amore’s (2009; 2010) argument that the Vampire of Venice, a plague victim herself, was, during life, a witch. We could from this then deduce a full loop in belief back to early Christian writings, echoed in those of Map, and again in more recent authors such as Gardeła et al. (2013:781) who writes that, “scholars almost always argued that unusual graves contained people who, it was feared, would become revenants or ‘vampires’”, as a result of a belief in the demonic possession of sinners after death. Interestingly the earliest reference noted in this paper is that written by Walter Map (1914:99) during the early twelfth century, a period when there is no record of plague of epidemic, simply only of poor health, hygiene and living conditions complicated by a lack of medical understanding. Alternatively such early beliefs could have arisen from the general fear that people of the time often associated with anything unknown of change. England at the time of Map’s writing had certainly become more inward looking after the appointment of Henry II as King of England, on the heels of the anarchy and civil war toward the end of the reign of King Stephen.


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Appendix 1 –

Excepts from Walter Map De Nugis Curialium in the original Latina and approximate English (where possible)[9]


Hec ait, et infremuit, to toque stupidus hesit horrore. Nee mirum ; horrent enim ut aiunt quibus de nocte proximi sunt fures aut cerue. De cerua, nescio racionem, sed fures horripilacionem non faciunt, sed’qui cum eis comitantur demones. Hie igitur expauit merito cui proximus e(s)t Satan astans’ et aloquens ro in uera uisione secum. Sic miser diu disputat : * Si quod iubet

Thus he spoke, and he groaned, to the horror toque stiffened all over. It is not surprising; shudder, as they say, for which there are thieves in the night of one’s neighbor or hinds. On the hind, I know not the reason, but thieves cause the bristling, sed’qui with them, accompanied by the demons. At this point, therefore, trembled at the neighbor to whom the merit of Satan, standing’ and aloquens ro in a real vision. That unhappy man for a long time, he argues: * if what is commanded

Page 99 – 100

Ut autem sciatis quam indiscreti et fatui furoris sint ire Walensium, puer quidam castri quod Sepes Inscisa dicitur, exiit ut aquam, Waiam scilicet, transiret ; arcum deferebat cum duabus sagittis, obuiusque duobus ex hostibus fugit ; fugientem de tarn prope secutus est alter eorum ut iam tenenti similis esset. Puer autem ipsum una sagittarum suarum per medium pectoris transfodit. At ipse socio suo ait, ‘ Sequere ipsum, quia ego morior, et mihi uitam meam ab ipso refer/ Secutus ille puerum quantum pro uilla proxima potuit, ad socium suum rediit ; puer autem ipsum a longe secutus est redeuntem, ut finem socii sciret, uiditque quod cum sanus ad uulneratum in frutectis uenisset, quesiuit ille a sano utrum sibi uitam a puero retulisset, cumque sibi responsum esset non, ‘ Veni hue/ inquit, ‘ ut susceptum a me osculum feras uxori mee et filiis, quia morior/ Cum sanus egrum oscularetur, qui suberat iacens eger cnipulo ei effodit uiscera, ‘ Perde/ inquiens, ‘ tuam, qui meam mihi per ignauiam non retulisti/ Superior autem ei similiter sua insecauit uiscera cnipulo suo, dicens, ‘ Nullam facies de morte mea iactanciam, solumque hoc mihi male contigit quod me mori cogunt uulnera tua, antequam uxori tue basia similia liberisque tuis transfuderim/ Ecce quam stulta quamque iniusta est ira Walensium, et quam in sanguine proni sint.

Maximum scio contigisse in Wallia prodigium. Willelmus Laudun, miles Anglicus, fortis uiribus et audacie probate, uenit ad Gillebertum Foliot, tune episcopum Herefordensem, nunc autem Lundoniensem, dicens, ‘ Domine, ad te confugio consilium petens quidam maleficus Walensis decessit satis nuper infideliter in uilla mea, qui statim post quatuor noctes singulis ad uillam noctibus repedans, non cessat euocare singillatim et nominatim conuicaneos suos, qui statim vocati infirmantur et infra triduum moriuntur, ut iam pauci supersint.’ Episcopus admirans ait, ‘ Potestatem forsitan dedit Dominus angelo illius perditi malo, ut in corpora illo mortuo se exagitet. Attamen effodiatur corpus illud, et collo reciso fossorio conspergatur ipsum et fossa magna aqua benedicta, et reponatur.’ Cumque hoc fieret, nihilominus errore pristino fatigati sunt ab eo residui. Nocte igitur quadam cum iam paucos reliquisset superstites, ipsum Willelmum trina citacione vocauit. At ille, ut erat animosus et inpiger, non ignarus quid esset, nudato prosilit ense, fugientemque demonem ad fossam usque secutus, ibi iam in fossa recidentem percussit in caput collo tenus, cessauitque ab ilia hora persecucio pestis erratice, nee ipsi Willelmo nee alicui aliorum exinde nocuit. Huius rei verum tenorem scimus, causam nescimus.

Now that you know how foolish and unwise to anger the Welsh boy, some bits of the castle which has often been called out to the water, the Wye pass; he carried a bow and two arrows, two obuiusque fled from the enemy; as has already been the standard, and, one of them from as near at hand that held him like it was being followed. And the child that he stabbed one of the arrows the number of the middle of the sternum. Then said he to his companion and said to him, ‘Follow him, that I am about to die, and to me the life of my soul from the very fact refer / He went on and the child as much as he was able to close to the town, he returned to his companion; The boy was returning to himself, he followed at a distance, that the end of his men he knew, and he saw in the thorn-hedges, the wounded had come to that when the man was, and asked us as to whether in the life of a child was reported to be that provided by a sound, and with their response, thought it not, ‘I came hither / said he, “that which was received they a kiss from me, my wife and the wild beasts, for my children, because I die, / kiss the sick with a healthy, knife, who was at hand, lying there, sick to him, Zedekiah, and his bowels, “I will destroy / said he, ‘you, who will not have reported to me from sloth / her by the superior with his own knife, the bowels of insecauit , saying, ‘There is the face of the death of my arrogance, and only death, to me, it happened that he heals you’re sickness, is this to me, before he kisses your wife, your children, like transfuderim / Behold, how and how that is not the wrath of the foolish things of the Welsh, and how they are in the blood of their heads.

 I know it has happened in Wales High prodigy. William Laudun, knight in the English, the mighty, test the strength and courage, he came to Gilbert Foliot, then the bishop of Hereford, but now of London, saying, ‘O Lord, I commend myself to you enough, too, for there is in a country house, leaving the counsel of my desiring a certain sorcerer, a Welshman, who immediately after the four returning each night to the village at night, does not cease to call each person and by name of the district, that have been immediately called to sicken and die within three days, as we have a few may not survive. ‘Bishop, wondering, said, ‘it may be, the Lord has the power of the evil angels, who were lost, as in the bodies of trouble for himself, after his death. However, that body being dug up, and put a hole in him, and a great reciso the spade of temper with the holy water, and must be replaced. ‘And when this had been done, nevertheless the error of their old worn out by it, and the rest. So, one night with a few survivors left, William onto a third citation. But he, as he was too full of courage and energy, fully aware that what it was, she jumps with naked sword, to the trench, as far as the demon of fugientemque followed, there the head down to the neck in a ditch substantially destroyed it with the, the persecution ceased, from that hour, the plague of the wanderers, nor any of the other and not to this William From harmed. But the tenor of this thing we know, we do not know the cause.


Times forsitan illudi, et sucubi demonis in me vitare tendis argucias. Frustra. Nam illi quos metuis cauent similiter hominum fallacias, et non nisi fide uel alia securitate se credunt alicui, et nichil preter peccatum ab eis referunt qui falluntur. Nam si quando, quod raro fit, uel successus vel opes afferunt, aut tarn inutiliter et tarn

Times perhaps deluded, and Succubus the devil in me, are you going to avoid guile. In vain. For, those whom thou art afraid shy of the deceits of men, and it is only themselves to any faith or other security, and only bring the sin committed by them, those whom they are deceived. For if sometime, which is rarely ever happen, they bring them success, wealth, or so and so to no purpose

pages 78 -79

a Deo prius accepta licencia, aut innocenter transeunt aut nocenter, secundum quod Dominus inducens eas aut conseruat aut deserit et temptari permittit ; at quid de his fantasticis dicendum casibus qui manent et bona se successione perpetuant, ut hie Alnodi et ille Britonum de quo superius, in quo dicitur miles quidam uxorem suam sepellisse reuera mortuam, et a chorea redibuisse raptam, et postmodum ex ea filios et nepotes suscepisse, et perdurare sobolem in diem istum, et eos qui traxerunt inde originem in multitudinem factos, qui omnes ideo ‘ filii mortue ‘ dicuntur ? Audienda sunt opera et permissiones Domini cum omni paciencia, et ipse laudandus in singulis, quod sicut ipse incomprehensibilis est, sic opera sua nostras transcendunt inquisiciones, et disputaciones euadunt, et quicquid de puritate ipsius a nobis excogitari potest aut sciri, si quid scimus, id uidetur habere, cum totus ipse sit uera puritas et pura ueritas.

Miles quidam a karissima sibi bona quidem et nobili uxore primogenitum primo mane post eius natiuitatem iugulatum repperit in cunis, et anno reuoluto secundum, et tercio similiter tercium, suis et omnium suorum excubiis flebiliter delusis. Preuenerunt ergo ipse et uxor sua suique quartum puerperium ieiuniis et elemosinis et oracionibus et lacrimis multis, natusque est eis puer, quern cum eis ignibus lampadibus(que) circumdantes tota uicinia, omnes in eum intendebant oculos. Veniens autem peregrinus quasi ex itinere fessus, hospicium sibi pro Deo peciit, et deuotissime susceptus est, qui et assedit eis excubans ; et ecce post noctem mediam sopitis omnibus aliis ipse solus peruigil uidit subito reuerendam matronam cunabulo imminence), r. tern et inuadentem | infantulum ut iugularet. Prosilit igitur inpiger ille, tenetque firmiter arreptam, donee omnibus excitatis et circumstantibus a multis eorum agnita est, et ab omnibus in modico, protestantibus ipsam esse nobilissimam omnium illius metropolis matronarum genere, moribus, diuiciis, et omni honestate ; sed ad nomen suum, ad questiones alias, nichil respondet. Quod et pater ipse multique alii pudori ascribunt ob intercepcionem, suadentque dimitti ; ille.constanter asserit demonem esse, tenetque firmiter, et una clauium ecclesie proxime faciem ad eius malicie signum exurit, et precipit ipsam sibi cito adduci inuidiam demonum in se prouocasse, unde et hec eorum nuncia

previously received permission from God , or innocently pass or criminals, according to the leading fashion or abandon them or tried and permits ; remain in, and of those cases in which it must be said and what it is , good stands in the succession of the Fantastic to perpetuate them, and let him also of the Britons of whom we have Alnodi as in this case , in which it is said the soldier, who was dead in truth, his wife, and sepellisse , and from the dance, pined , lost , and afterwards, has undertaken to have children by her , and grandchildren, , and to last out the day of the child in this place, and the origin of those who drew him into a multitude , who were all , therefore, ‘the sons of the dead ” as a whole? One should listen to the Lord with the permissions of all the works, and patience, and he is to be praised in every detail, that just as it is incomprehensible, so his works transcend our inquisitions, and disputaciones , exclaiming that , and whatever is , or can be known about the purity of the thought of by us , if we know anything , that seems to give us when he is completely pure in what true happiness and the purity of the truth .

The wife of the first-born, and a noble to be good, but some people came from all sides about Miles early in the morning after his birth when he found with his throat cut in the cradle, and the whole year had passed the second, and the third in like manner, third in rank, and they kept the charge of all his tears delusis. A pregnancy is, therefore, for the fourth time, he and his wife and his Preuenerunt fasting and almsgiving and prayer and with many tears, he has been born to them, a young man, when he found them, the fires of the lamps (que) surrounded the whole neighborhood, all of them in the eyes of him, they were intending to. But coming as a pilgrim, tired from his journey, he prayed to God for their hospitality, and was received with great devotion, who sat down with them and watching them; He alone is alert and, behold, he saw that the others all were asleep, a sudden, after the night of the middle of the reverend matron cunabulo imminence), r. tern and inuadentes | child to be murdered. Then he jumps energy, firmly holds it took until all excited about him, and many of them recognized, and all the little Protestants to be the most famous of all capital stock of married women, character, wealth and all honesty; but for its own sake, to the questions at other times, nothing to it. That he and his father and many others ascribe shame because intercepcionem, urged demobilized; ille.constanter asserts that to be the devil of a pantry is firmly, and one of the keys to his Church in the next face of the dame consumeth it: a sign of malice, and envy of the demons he commands it for Himself, in itself, to be brought quickly prouocasse, hence this report to their

Appendix 2 –

“The nurse went to the door of the guest room, and in the light of the burning lamp she saw the girl sitting beside Machates. Because of the extraordinary nature of the sight, she did not wait there any longer but ran to the girl’s mother screaming, `Kharito! Demostratos!’ She said they should get up and come with her to their daughter, who was alive and by some divine will was with the guest in the guest room.

When Kharito heard this astonishing report, the immensity of the message and the nurse’s excitement made her frightened and faint. But after a short time the memory of her daughter came to her, and she began to weep; in the end she accused the old woman of being mad and told her to leave her presence immediately. But the nurse replied boldly and reproachfully that she herself was rational and sound of mind, unlike her mistress, who was reluctant to see her own daughter. With some hesitation Kharito went to the door of the guest room, partly coerced by the nurse and partly wanting to know what really had happened. Since considerable time–about two hours–had now passed since the nurse’s original message, it was somewhat late when Kharito went to the door and the occupants were already asleep. She peered in and, though she recognized her daughter’s clothes and features, but inasmuch as she could not determine the truth of the matter, she decided to do nothing further that night. She planned to get up in the morning and confront the girl, or if she should be too late for that, she intended to question Machates thoroughly about everything. He would not, she thought, lie if asked about so important a matter. And so she said nothing and left.

At dawn, however, it turned out that by divine will or chance the girl had left unnoticed. When Kharito came to the room she was upset with the young man because of the girl’s departure. She asked him to relate everything to her from the beginning, telling the truth and concealing nothing.

The youth was anxious and confused at first, but hesitantly revealed the girl’s name was Philinnion. He told how her visits began, how great her desire for him was, and that she said she came to him without her parents’ knowledge. Wishing to make the matter credible he opened his coffer and took out the items the girl had left behind – the golden ring he had obtained from her and the breast-band she had left the night before.

When Kharito saw this evidence she uttered a cry, tore her clothes, cast her headdress from her head and fell to the ground, throwing herself upon the tokens and beginning her grief anew. As the guest observed what was happening, how all were grieving and wailing as if they were about to lay the girl into her grave, he became upset and called upon them to stop, promising to show them the girl if she came again. Kharito accepted this and bade him carefully keep his promise to her.

Night came on and now it was the hour when Philinnion was accustomed to come to him. The household kept watch wanting to know of her arrival. She entered at the usual time and sat down on the bed. Machates pretended that nothing was wrong, since he wished to investigate the whole incredible matter to find out if the girl he was consorting with, who took care to come to him at the same hour, was actually dead. As she ate and drank with him, he simply could not believe what the others had told him, and he supposed that some grave-robbers had dug into the tomb and sold the clothes and gold to her father. But in his wish to learn exactly what the case was, he secretly sent his slaves to summon Demostratos and Kharito.

They came quickly. When they first saw her they were speechless and panic-stricken by the amazing sight, but after that they cried aloud and embraced their daughter. Then Philinnion said to them : `Mother and father, how unfairly you have grudged my being with the guest for three days in my father’s house, since I have caused no one any pain. For this reason, on account of your meddling, you shall grieve all over again, and I shall return to the place appointed for me. For it was not without divine will that I came here.’ Immediately upon speaking these words she was dead, and her body lay stretched visibly on the bed. Her father and mother threw themselves upon her, and there was much confusion and wailing in the house because of the calamity. The misfortune was unbearable and the sight incredible.

The event was quickly heard through the city and was reported to me. Accordingly, during the night I kept in check the crowds that gathered at the house, since, with news like this going from mouth to mouth, I wanted to make sure there would be no trouble.
By early dawn the town assembly was full. After the particulars had been explained, it was decided that we should first go to the tomb, open it, and see whether the body lay on its bier or whether we would find the place empty. A half-year had not yet passed since the death of the girl. When we opened the chamber into which all deceased members of the family were placed, we saw bodies lying on biers, or bones in the case of those who had died long ago, but on the bier onto which Philinnion had been placed we found only the iron ring that belonged to the guest and the gilded wine cup, objects that she had obtained from Machates on the first day.

Astonished and frightened, we proceeded immediately to Demostratos’s house to see if the corpse was truly to be seen in the guest room. After we saw the dead girl lying there on the ground, we gathered at the place of assembly, since the events were serious and incredible.

There was considerable confusion in the assembly and almost no one was able to form a judgment on the events. The first to stand up was Hyllos, who is considered to be not only the best seer among us but also a fine augur; in general, he has shown remarkable perception in his craft. He said we should burn the girl outside the boundaries of the city, since nothing would be gained by burying her in the ground within its boundaries, and perform an apotropaic sacrifice to Hermes Khthonios and the Eumenides. Then he prescribed that everyone purify himself completely, cleanse the temples and perform all the customary rites to the Khthonion [underworld] gods. He spoke to me also in private about the king and the events, telling me to sacrifice to Hermes, Zeus Xenios, and Ares, and to perform these rites with care. When he had made this known to us, we undertook to do what he had prescribed. Machates, the guest whom the ghost had visited, became despondent and killed himself.

If you decide to write about this to the king, send word to me also in order that I may dispatch to you one of the persons who examined the affair in detail. Farewell.”

                                                        Source: Mark, J.J. (2014).

End Notes –

[1]Translation: our own imagination is the only reason for all the weird and wonderful appearance of so many ghosts or ghosts of dead men

[2] This poem appears to be based on a much earlier story collated by Phlegon of Tralles during the second century. This is often attributed to be the oldest European ghost story. (see Appendix 2)

[3] Tsaliki (2008) presents a number of interesting and highly relevant case studies as part of her doctoral research into Deviant Burial and Necrophobia (An Investigation of Extraordinary Human Body Disposal with Special Reference to Necrophobia)

[4] See also the discussion on Lesbos

[5] the nachtzehrer, is a German term meaning nightwaster that arose from the Kashubes of north-central Poland. References can be found dating to the thirteenthcentury Bohemia and Moravia. Folk beliefs claim that the nachtzehrer eats its burial shroud to gain strength, before rising from the grave to become a traditional vampire (Patel 2009; Chubb, 2014).

[6] Translations provided are my own undertaking, except where otherwise indicated

[7] It should also be noted that prone burial was also used for criminals and possible social outsiders of varying descriptions. The fact that most of the burials outlined here have been in the supine position suggests that they had a positive community standing and were buried with care – despite the deviant nature of the burial practice

[8] Barber (2008) in Dundes (8ed.)(1998:113) provides a fascinating summary of the information reported as fact about Vampires and revenants

[9] This is an unfinished work – There are a number of words that I cannot work out a meaning for as yet so have left these in their Latin form