Feb 08, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

Vampire Graveyard with 40 Headless Roman Skeletons Discovered in England

Those who believed in and feared vampires have devised many ways to burying a corpse so that it did not rise again to create more vampires. Placing a brick in their mouth was a popular way to prevent biting. Burial face down used the logic that a vampire could only move forward and had no idea which way was up. Pinning the body down with a stake – wooden, iron or anything else handy – was supposed to keep them from rising, and a remedy in Poland was to place a sickle blade across the neck so a rising vampire cut off its own head. A graveyard discovered recently during excavations for a high-speed railway across England showed that the Romans 2,000 years ago were too afraid to wait for self-beheading – it contained 40 headless skeletons with their skulls between their legs. What kind of vampire epidemic was this?

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Missing something?

“As part of HS2’s unprecedented archaeology programme, archaeologists have been able to excavate a Roman town in Fleet Marston, near Aylesbury, discovering more about what life was like in Roman Britain, two thousand years ago.”

HS2 is a new high-speed railway under development that will eventually connect towns and cities in the South, Midlands and North of England. Because every dig uncovered more of the history of the UK, 50 archeologists from the COPA consortium (Cotswold Archaeology, Oxford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology) were in Aylesbury in central England where the HS2 will pass through what was once an ancient Roman town. According to an HS2 press release, they recently found evidence of domestic structures, commercial and industrial activity, over 1,200 coins, several lead weights used at markets, spoons, brooches, gaming dice and bells – showing the area was once a busy Roman center for residency, business, religion and gambling. When they died, the residents were buried in the largest Roman cemetery of its kind now known in Buckinghamshire. The archeologists found approximately 425 graves -- mostly inhumation, a few cremations … and 10% vampires.

“Amongst the buried population at Fleet Marston are a number of decapitated burials, approximately 10% of those buried there. There are several instances of the head being placed between the legs or next to the feet.”

As seen in the photos (view them here), the beheadings were not the result of violent executions but occurred after death. The Romans were known to occasionally bury criminals or ‘deviants’ this way, but this large amount suggests it was a burial practice of a pre-Christian culture – possibly removing the head to help release the person’s spirit … or to prevent them from doing evil in the afterlife. Aylesbury dates back to the early 4th century BCE when it was an Iron Age fort for ancient Britons. Because it was such a major center for trade, it‘s possible the practice of burying a beheaded corpse with its skull between its legs came from an outside culture.

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Too late!

“All human remains uncovered will be treated with dignity, care and respect and our discoveries will be shared with the community.”

The archaeologists promise to respect all of the remains, including the beheaded ones, and the site and the cemetery will be studied for insights on this Roman community -- especially why so many were buried in such an unusual and fearful way. Meanwhile, the HS2 high-speed railway continues to barrel its way through. What will these potential vampires think about that?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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