By Jill Stefko
The vampire graves were found in June 2012. All of them contained male aristocrats or clergymen whose bodies were stabbed or nailed into their caskets.
Archaeologists excavating a monastery near the Black Sea town of Sozopol, Bulgaria, discovered a number of 700-year-old skeletons that had been stabbed through the heart with iron rods, a sign that their contemporaries believed they were vampires.
These findings were made during the excavation of Saint Nikolai Chudotvoretz Monastery, which was built by the harbor and was used in the tenth to twelfth centuries. The find was discovered in a graveyard close to the building. Lore and cases of vampires are found globally.
Most people think of Slavic countries when they hear the word, “vampire,” but the lore is prevalent in Europe, Australia, Africa and parts of Asia and the Americas. Most of the vampiric lore originated in the Slavic countries, which explains the large amount of vampire burials.
The Bulgarian word for the creature is Krvoijac Vepir. In Greece, it’s called the Vrykolaka or Vrykolakas. It doesn’t drink blood, but creates plagues and has been blamed for poltergeist activity and causing sleep paralysis. There are at least two recorded English cases of vampires: The Alnwick Castle Vampire and The Buckinghamshire Vampire.
William of Newburgh collected English vampire accounts in the twelfth century, including the first case that occurred during his lifetime. The man was called the Lord of Alnwick Castle. Then, the word “vampire’ wasn’t in the English language and wasn’t associated with drinking blood and epidemics. The word wasn’t in usage until the early 1700s, after an incursion of vampire superstitions arrived in Western Europe. The lord lived a disreputable life, filled with crime and sin. The authorities wanted him, but he hid in Alnwick Castle where he had allies and continued his wicked ways.
The second case was recorded by William from an oral account told to him by Stephen, Archdeacon of the Buckinghamshire Diocese. The man died in the shire in 1192 and was buried on the evening of Ascension Day. That night, it was said, his ghost visited his sleeping wife, climbed into bed with her and pressed all of his weight on top of her.
The Recent Vampire Grave Findings
Professor Bojidar Dimitrov, top cop of the Bulgarian National History Museum, told the Sofia News Agency that the people were believed to be evil when they were alive and would turn into vampires after they died. He theorized that one of the skeletons belongs to the notorious pirate, Krivich, the superintendent of the Sozopol stronghold or one of his heirs. Earlier, a woman’s remains were found, buried in the same way, in the close-by Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius.
Speculation: Bulgaria’s Vampire Graves will Attract Tourists
Sokopol might soon join popular vampiric tourism sites, including Romania’s Count Dracula’s Castle and the Parisian Vampire Museum. Vampire researcher and administrator of Voices of the Vampire Community, Merticus, said that every several years news about the latest archaeological find and its ascription to vampires.
Dimitrov said the museum is planning a special exhibit featuring two skeletons that were found with iron rods stabbed through their hearts – a sign that their contemporaries believed they were vampires. He said that he didn’t understand why a discovery like this one became popular and speculated that it was due to the enigmatic word “vampire.”
Could Vampires Exist?
There are old documented cases of people who appeared as vampires after they died and drained their victims’ blood. When their corpses were exhumed, they weren’t decomposed and were filled with fresh blood. Some people believe they need to drink blood to survive, including serial criminals and those who have vampire psychosis – the delusion that they are vampires. There are documented cases of psychic and psycho vampires, people who drain others of energy.
Whether or not people who were the classic vampires of legend or lore is a matter of speculation.
Vlad “the Impaler” Tepes, (Romanian for imapler), a member of the House of Draculesti, was nicknamed this because he killed his human prey by impaling them on stakes, then displayed them to scare his enemies and warned would-be violators of his stringent moral code what their fate would be. It’s believed he killed between 40,000 to 100,000 people. Bram Stoker turned him into a classical vampire in his 1897 novel Dracula.
- Catherine Traywick, “100 ‘Vampire’ Graves Discovered in Bulgaria,” Share 29, Newsfeed.Time.com. Accessed on 6/20/12.
- Gabriel Ronay, The Truth about Dracula, daybooks, 1979.
- Rosemary Ellen Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other
- Monsters, Checkmark Books, 2005.
- Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Vampires among Us, Pocket Books, 1991.