You’ve all heard of Count Dracula and other vampire stories and legends, but did you know that Eastern Europe is a hotspot of medieval vampire graveyards? The widely adopted explanation of the real vampire Slavic stories dating between the 9th and 11th centuries is the growing conflict between paganism and Christianity which took place at that time. Thus pagan vampire myths intercepted with religion, and the ones who were suspected to be vampires would be buried near or in the churches, with a crucifix in their coffin, their hands and legs bound and heavy stones placed upon them.
All of these rituals were most commonly done posthumously. When sudden and unexplained deaths of cattle, sheep or even people occurred, the recently deceased would be exhuminated. The ones who looked somewhat alive (new growth of fingernails, blood around the mouth, swollen body) were blamed for those deaths and would be judged as vampires. Thus the most obvious explanation of these vampire stories is that the medieval people had a serious lack of knowledge of body decomposition after death. Some of these “vampires” are also believed to be the carriers of diseases which were not understood at the time, such as tuberculosis. The most notable Slavic vampire graveyards were discovered in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic
In 2014, archeologists found a vampire grave in a town named Thracian, and it dates back in 13th century. The skeleton is thought to belong to an old woman, and there is nothing unusual there, except for the two-pound iron rod thrust through her chest. Her left leg was also cut off, and both of these mutilations were believed to stop the alleged vampire from returning from the dead to haunt and prey the villagers. This is not the only vampire grave found in Thracian, it is just the newest addition to over 100 others found in this city. Some other techniques Bulgarian people used to prevent vampires from resuscitating was tying their hands, covering their graves with heavy stones and using rugged metal rings to bind them down to the ground.
In 1991 an investigation of an old church in Prostejov resulted in an interesting discovery. The archaeologists found a grave secured with iron bars, which is one of vampire burial methods, as old residents of this town believed vampires can’t tolerate iron. For added protection, legs were also covered with heavy stones. This grave dates back in 16th century.
Six corpses were found in a vampire graveyard in Drawsko. The skeletons include a 12-year-old child, a middle-aged woman and a girl in her teenage years. Some of the corpses were secured with sharp sickles and some with heavy stones on their necks. They are believed to be about 200 years old and are thought to be vampire candidates, which means they haven’t already been accused to rise from the grave, but were thought to have certain vampire tendencies. Archeologists haven’t found any reports of what these tendencies were exactly, however recent discoveries suggest that these “vampires” might actually be the first victims of the cholera epidemic in Poland.
Another recent discovery of vampire burials in Poland is located near the town of Gliwice. Archaeologists found 4 decapitated skeletons with their heads placed between their legs. This was a common practice with the ones who were suspected to be vampires, as medieval Gliwice residents believed this is the only sure way the undead won’t come back to life. The scientists estimate that these burials took place somewhere in the 16th century.
4. Czech Republic
In the early 90’s a local resident of Celakovice dug his yard to build a drainage to his garden. While he was digging, his shovel suddenly hit a bone. He first thought he discovered a murder, but the police found that the skeleton was ancient, and called the archaeologists to investigate the site. 12 more skeletons were found, they date from the 11th century and belong to males aged from 30 to 40 years. Their chests were pierced with metal spikes and their hands and feet were bound. Some of them were also decapitated, with their heads placed downward. These are all proofs that the people who buried them were afraid they would come back to life, and thus took all the necessary measures to prevent that from happening. Although there are no actual reports from the 11th century, many people still believe that these are indeed real vampire graves.