Deviant burial was a common practice in medieval times and with the expansion of archaeological sites all across the world, we have more and more evidence of deviant burials as means to prevent vampires from leaving their graves and terrorizing villages – in this case, one located in Dorchester!
Back in 2007, research by Wessex Archaeology in Little Keep, Dorchester, revealed the remnants of a roman cemetery. Out of the total of 29 graves found, 5 had evidence of deviant burial.
While some corpses had been entered face-down, others had been decapitated – with their head placed between their legs at the ankles. In some of the other graves the legs themselves were crossed, however this can be a normal result of the decomposition process and not of a deviant burial.
As per the coins found in the one of the graves, the deviant burial can be placed in the region of 4th century AD and it is possible that the coins were added in an effort to “help” the souls of the departed on their way – I`m referring here to the pagan belief that one would need to pay the ferryman on the river Strix for passage to the afterlife.
Since no reports are available for Dorchester as to any vampire activity in that time, I`m afraid that the deviant burial is all we have to go on, however it`s safe to say that the villagers were convinced that this drastic action had to be taken in order to prevent unwanted nightly visits.
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† Vampire Accounts