Home > cultural commentary > Vampire breadcrumbs to the BBC

Vampire breadcrumbs to the BBC

Those of us who periodically write (or read) vampire related stories may be interested in a couple of recent BBC reports.

One is of a ‘vampire grave’ in Bulgaria containing several skeletons – the bodies appear to have been buried with metal stakes through their hearts.

Other similar graves have been found previously in Eastern Europe and, I believe, in Scotland and Ireland. From what I’ve read previously, metal stakes are unusual – at other sites wooden stakes have been used, as have heavy stones placed on bodies to pin them down, and postmortem decapitation. In some sites the bodies had stones placed in their mouths and the speculation is that this either prevented the spirit leaving the body, or prevented spirits taking possession of the body.

There are plenty of academic discussions of funerary rites and the handling of ‘dangerous’ bodies such as suspected vampires. It’s obviously a topic of interest to social scientists, historians, archaeologists and suchlike. A quick overview written for a popular audience is in the Orange County Review for 12 April 2007. I could point you to more scholarly sources but you’d need something like a JSTOR or ATHENS account to access most of it.

The other is of a ‘Victorian vampire slaying kit’ shortly to be auctioned in the north of England. Made in the late 1800s, it contains a crucifix, pistol, wooden stakes and mallet, along with glass bottles containing holy water, holy earth and garlic paste. It was possibly a ‘novelty item’ made as a result of the popularity of Stoker’s Dracula.

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