History | September 5, 2022 6:00 am

Archaeologists Unearthed a Suspected Vampire’s Grave in Poland

Complete with a sickle placed across the body's neck

"Wake Not the Dead"
Robert Seymour's "Wake Not the Dead" seemed apropos.
Robert Seymour - HathiTrust, Public Domain

The scene is a familiar one for anyone who’s spent time watching movies about vampires over the years. You can probably picture it: someone stumbles upon a grave containing a body, and on that body, there’s are signs that something about the person buried there inspired great fear in the surrounding area.

It’s the stuff of Gothic fiction and Hammer horror films — but it’s also something archaeologists occasionally turn up. As Insider reports, an archaeological dig led by a professor at Poland’s Nicholas Copernicus University turned up something unusual in a graveyard — a woman’s body buried with a sickle across the neck. The graveyard dated back to the 17th century.

The body in question also had a padlock on its toe. As the professor who headed the dig, Dariusz Poliński, told the Daily Mail, these details suggest that the people who buried the body believed that the woman was a vampire. Other than a distinctive front tooth, it’s not clear what they based this decision upon.

It’s not the only instance of archaeologists discovering a body interred in such a way that suggests that a belief in vampirism played a role. Archaeologists in Bulgaria discovered a body that had even more drastic steps taken to prevent it from rising from the grave in 2014. Apparently, the body had a metal pole hammered through its chest, and one of the body’s legs had been removed and placed alongside the rest of it.

Archaeology and folklore don’t always line up this neatly, but sometimes they do. Though in this case, the likely outcome is more along the lines of an academic paper than a blood-curdling horror story.