Two of the most bizarre prehistoric human burials ever found in Britain have been discovered by archaeologists in Yorkshire.
Excavations near the town of Pocklington have unearthed a pair of mysterious 3rd century BC Iron Age graves containing the skeletons of potentially high status individuals whose dispatch to the next world had featured some very unusual rituals, including possible vampire-killing ones. The archaeological investigation has revealed that one individual – a warrior aged between 17 and 25 – may have been “killed” twice, or even three times. A detailed examination of his skeleton shows that, probably after his death, his body had been ritually pierced by nine spears (five with iron tips and four with bone ones). He had also received a potentially lethal blow to his forehead, delivered with a wooden club or other similar weapon.
But as yet, it is unknown as to precisely why his corpse was attacked in this way.
One potential explanation is that, although he was a respected warrior, he had died of natural causes, and not in battle. Perhaps significantly his shield had been deliberately dismantled. But the ritual spearing of his corpse might have allowed him the privilege of finally dying a warrior’s death. A second possibility could be that, at least after death, he was feared. In many parts of the world there is archaeological and folklore evidence for a tradition in which some corpses (those of suspected “vampires” and other “revenants”) were systematically speared by sharp objects (usually of metal or wood) to “neutralise” them.