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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