Archaeologists in Pień, Poland, have recently found a child’s burial from the 17th century. The child was found buried face down with a padlock around its foot. The padlock would have prevented the child from leaving the grave after death. Located near the northern city of Bydgoszcz, the graveyard was designed for “abandoned souls” and poverty-stricken individuals who could not pay for a plot in a churchyard, according to Live Science.
A Fear of the Child After Death?
“The padlock shows people were afraid of this child after its death,” Dariusz Poliński, an archaeologist at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, told the publication. Those who were scared of corpses rising from the dead may have benefited from a vampire defense kit, which Ripley’s houses within its own warehouse.
Poliński has been excavating the area for several years, and his team has found approximately 100 graves. The vampire child, sex unknown, was between the ages of five and seven.
The child’s remains were located next to a “vampire” woman who was unearthed in 2022 with a similar burial date. She too had a padlock on her foot as well as a sickle over her neck. People used padlocks to make sure bodies stayed in their graves. Archaeologists also found a third padlock near bones but not connected to a body.
A Grave For Lost Souls
Poliński stated that this child skeleton is the only one buried in this way in the graveyard. There are no other children buried like this anywhere else in Europe. He also pointed out that the cemetery in Pień was not the usual burial spot because it wasn’t on church property.
Church burials were more expensive and apparently not inclusive. It appears that the graveyard with the “vampire” skeletons was also a final resting place for abandoned souls. The archaeologists believe the “vampire” woman with the sickle was wealthy. The woman had gold thread in her clothing as well as flecks of gold on the palette of her skull. The gold flecks indicate she likely ingested medicine with gold.
Archaeologists have taken DNA from the woman’s bones to learn more about her life. Experts think she might have been very ill. They might also test the child vampire’s DNA in the future.
Not The Kind of Vampire We Are Thinking
During the 1600s, people were afraid of dead children, particularly if they passed away suddenly or due to unusual circumstances.
Even though the word “vampires” is thrown around, the concept of vampires as we understand them today didn’t exist in the 17th century.
The site has bones from other children, but no complete skeletons. They also found a piece of a child’s jaw that was green. Experts think a copper coin might have caused the green stain. It was once common to bury people with coins in their mouths.
The archaeologists are in the process of examining the remains they have uncovered and hope to excavate further in the upcoming year.
By Noelle Talmon, contributor for Ripleys.com