“Vampire” woman buried with a scythe on her throat to prevent her from waking up: the macabre ritual

In a 17th-century Polish cemetery, archaeologists have found the remains of a woman buried with a ritual to lock her to the ground. They feared it was a vampire.

The “vampire” woman with the scythe on her throat. Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

The skeleton of a woman who died in the 17th century and was buried in the cemetery in the village of Pień, Poland, was found stuck in the ground with a neck-high scythe and a padlock strapped to her left big toe. According to the archaeologists who found her remains, these were “security measures” used to prevent the woman, believed to be a vampire, from waking up from the world of the dead and terrorizing the population with bloody actions. This is not the first skeleton found with this macabre treatment, the result of superstition and vampire myth that centuries ago made its way to various European countries, especially the Slavs. Fear of these long-clawed, “blood-sucking” mythological creatures has taken hold so deeply that there is no shortage of summary executions of people accused of vampirism.

Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

To describe the case of the woman found in Pień, a research team consisting of scientists from the Nicolaus Copernicus University (Poland) in the city of Toruń, coordinated by Professor Dariusz Poliński. Researchers were engaged in an archaeological dig in the Polish village cemetery when they came across the unusual remains. The woman, whose age has not been stated, had a silk hat on her head, so scholars believe she had high social status. Nevertheless, she was not spared the “special” treatment adopted for the dreaded vampires. It cannot be excluded that she was killed on this charge. The scythe at neck height had the task of preventing him from rising from the ground in the event of an “awakening”; the padlock on the big toe also served to keep her locked in the burial place. “The scythe was not stretched but placed on the neck in such a way that if the deceased had tried to raise his head he would have been cut or injured,” Dr Poliński told the Daily Mail.

Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

As experts have indicated, this was only one of the methods of preventing vampire raids. Among other things, the head and legs were cut off, the deceased placed face down, the remains set on fire and the corpse destroyed with stones. In other cases, wooden or metal posts were driven into the skull of the deceased. As for the scythe technique, five skeletons undergoing similar treatment were found seven years ago in the village of Drewsko. Among them a man and a woman between 30 and 45 years old with a scythe stuck in their throats and a woman between 50 and 60 years old with a stone in her throat and a scythe at hip height. The accusation of vampirism, however, may not be the only explanation for these grisly findings; as Daily Mail experts pointed out, in fact, the symbol of the scythe “protected pregnant women, children and the dead from evil spirits”, so it cannot be excluded that it could be rituals benign, not measures to counter monsters.

Credit: Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

Credit: Credit: Mirosław Blicharski / Aleksander

It is not yet known on what grounds a person could be accused of being a vampire, but as the Smithsonian Institution indicates it is likely that at the time strangers were among the “preferred” targets of superstition and people’s fears. According to specialists, even victims of cholera could be accused of being vampires; Hundreds of years ago, after all, it was easier to give credence to witchcraft and the supernatural than to potential scientific explanations.

“Vampire” woman buried with a scythe on her throat to prevent her from waking up: the macabre ritual