What to Do with Your Dead Vampire

The discovery of a 1,500 year old skeleton with spikes through the shoulders, heart and ankles is a rare example of ancient Britain's 'dangerous dead'

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Just in time for the final installment of The Twilight Saga to hit theaters, a “vampire” skeleton has been unearthed in England. The skeleton, which is estimated to be as much as 1,500 years old, was discovered bound in irons, with metal spikes through its shoulders, heart and ankles, according to a new report from Southwell Archaeology.

The skeleton was originally discovered by archaeologist Charles Daniels back in 1959, while hunting for Roman ruins in the ancient town of Southwell, Nottinghamshire in England. What he found was a skeleton who was given the full anti-vampire treatment — suggesting that the person who belonged to the skeleton was dangerous when alive, according to the Daily Mail. John Lock, chairman of Southwell Archaeology, told The Telegraph, that the body was one of a handful of such burials to be found in the UK.

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New details of the burial were published in the journal Southwell Archaeology. As reported in the Daily Mail, the remains are believed to be the result of a ‘deviant burial’, an ancient rite reserved for those considered to be the ‘dangerous dead’, which, according to the report’s author Matthew Beresford, were those people who were suspected of being vampires.

But as the Telegraph notes, there are vampires and then there’s vampires. As Beresford says in his report: “The classic portrayal of the dangerous dead (more commonly known today as a vampire) is an undead corpse arising from the grave” — not quite the image of pallid yet oddly charismatic undead we’re used to. And as Beresford continues, the body was probably not even that of a suspected vampire but of someone accused of more terrestrial crimes. “Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the punishment of being buried in water-logged ground, face down, decapitated, staked or otherwise was reserved for thieves, murderers or traitors or later for those deviants who did not conform to societies rules: adulterers, disrupters of the peace, the unpious or oath breaker. Which of these the Southwell deviant was we will never know.”

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5 comments
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Artstrada
Artstrada

by chance, did you find a gold watch by the skeleton? it is mine

Cassandra
Cassandra like.author.displayName 1 Like

Yeah... I probably don't need to say this, but whatever you all do, DON'T remove the spikes!  That'll only cause him to reanimate and unleash a rein of terror on Nottinghamshire.  Oh, who am I fooling?  Of course they're going to remove the spikes... sigh... no one ever listens to me.  

NathanPaulKennedy
NathanPaulKennedy

Bear in mind, back then metal was expensive, particularly if you were going to bury somebody with it. That meant chaining them down like this was designed to stop them getting away both in this life and the next, not common practice in an era when most people were lucky to get more than a shallow grave or a pile of rocks on top of them. As for the vampire thing, they believed that iron was a holy metal because it was found in meteors that had "fallen from the heavens" as a gift from God so that was why they used it, the thinking was the metal was blessed and would protect them.

The truth is of course that the poor soul probably had syphilis, which causes most of the symptoms associated with vampires and causes uncontrollable rage as well as being spread through the blood (the whole biting and turning you thing). Like they said though, we'll probably never know for sure, maybe a real Vampyre was dumb enough to get caught, chained and staked, although that seems unlikely!

sam927
sam927

@NathanPaulKennedy If it's 1,500 years old, isn't it highly doubtful that it had syphilis? http://phys.org/news/2011-12-skeletons-columbus-voyage-syphilis.html

harrynoyes
harrynoyes

@sam927 @NathanPaulKennedy Some historians (see McNeill's "Plagues and Peoples") do not believe that syphilis came from the Americas. The bacterium is identical with the one that causes yaws, an Old World disease. The hypothesis is that the disease called leprosy in medieval Europe was actually yaws, partly because it was highly contagious (while true leprosy or Hansen's Disease is not). As Europeans became more cleanly and got richer (i.e., could afford new clothes) in the Renaissance period, yaws retreated to the area where it could still find favorable conditions (the genitalia) and became syphilis. By coincidence, this was also about the time Columbus opened America to exploration, so it was easy for the Italians and Spanish to blame it on each other's voyagers.