The skeleton of a “vampire woman” was found with a scythe positioned around her neck at the site of a cemetery in Poland during the 17th century. According to the researchers responsible for the discovery, from Nicholas Copernicus University, the remains were also found with a padlock attached to one of the toes.
The work was carried out by a team led by Professor Dariusz Poliński, who told the British newspaper Daily Mail that this was an unusual type of burial. Measures like this, according to the professor, were used, for example, for “protection against the return of the dead”.
“Ways to protect against the return of the dead included cutting off the head or legs, placing the deceased on his stomach, burning them and crushing them with a stone,” Poliński said.
“The scythe was not placed horizontally, but placed on the neck in such a way that if the deceased had tried to get up, most likely the head would have been cut off or injured,” he added.
In the discovery, the professor’s team also found that the skeleton had a thirsty cap on its head, which indicates that it may have belonged to a person of high status at the time it was buried.
In 2015, archaeologists in the village of Drewsko, about 20 kilometers away, found five similarly buried skeletons in a 400-year-old cemetery.
Scythes were found pressed against the throat of an adult male, aged 35 to 44, and an adult female, aged 35 to 39.
An older woman, who was in her 50s and 60s when she died, was buried with a scythe on her hips and a medium-sized stone in her throat.
Two more graves, both with sickles placed in their throats, were also found: that of an adult woman between 30 and 39 years old, and another of a young woman who was between 14 and 19 years old.
The researchers who made the discovery said at the time that this was done to “ensure that the dead would remain in their graves”, but also to “protect the dead from the forces of evil”.