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News: Poland
Vampire burial found in Kamien Pomorski, Poland. Photo: Kamierskie Info.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

Another vampire found in Poland

Reflecting the well recorded a strong Slavic belief in spirits.

The group of recorded vampires seems to increase in Poland, as archaeologists in Kamien Pomorski, northwestern Poland, have revealed the skeleton of another individual whose burial demonstrates his contemporary regarded him as a prospective vampire.

The find took place when archaeologists were digging the site of a town marketplace where a cemetery used to operate from the 13th to the 18th century AD. situated next to the town church. Archaeologists examining the skeleton found that the body demonstrated a number of “vampire burial” treats: a brick had been placed in his mouth,  his teeth, or “fangs” were removed, and his leg was staked (in order to prevent the body from rising from its grave). The burial dates from the 16th century AD.

Excavation team leader Slawomir Gorka says that these rituals were common in vampiric burials in the Kamien Pomorski area from the 13th to the 17th century.

The belief in blood-thirsty vampires has strong roots in Poland as has in the whole of Eastern Europe, while, through the lens of Romanticism, has a strong impact in modern and recent popular culture worldwide (eg. the Romanian Count Dracula,  the Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory).

“There is a strong Slavic belief in spirits. Romanian folklore has vampiric figures such as the moroi and strigoi. The word ‘mora’ means nightmare. But these are common to many cultures. We often see bird or owl-like figures that swoop and feed on you.”, says Dr Tim Beasley-Murray, a lecturer in Slavonic studies at UCL. 

Still, only recently the reaction of people on the basis of such beliefs seems to be supported by archaeological finds.  Last July, archaeologists digging in Gliwice, Poland, discovered seven bodies with their heads removed and placed on their legs, associated with vampiric beliefs. Vampiric burials have also been found elsewhere in Europe, with the Venice vampire (found in 2006) being the most famous example so far.