A 400-year-old Medieval “vampire child” was recently found buried face-down with an iron padlock on its foot to keep it rising from the dead.
The discovery was made by a group of archaeologists in Poland in the village of Pień near the northern city of Bydgoszcz, Live Science reports.
“The padlock shows people were afraid of this child after its death,” said Dariusz Poliński, an archaeologist at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun.
The archaeologists estimated the child, which has yet to be determined to be male of female, was buried in the 17th century and was between 5 and 7 years old at the time of its death.
Poliński believes this child skeleton with a padlock on its foot is the only known example of such a burial in Europe.
The graveyard was not the regular burial place in the village, which would have been within the sacred boundaries of a church, Poliński said — though its location is not known.
Being buried in the church graveyard would have been expensive, so those who could not afford it were buried elsewhere.
This lesser graveyard also seems to have been the place where “abandoned souls” were buried away from the church, even if they could afford a better funeral, Poliński said.
The “vampire child” was found buried just a few feet from another Medieval “vampire woman” who was pinned to the ground with a sickle placed across her neck to prevent her from rising from the dead as well.
The “vampire woman” was also discovered by Poliński and his team in the fall of 2022.
“Ways to protect against the return of the dead include cutting off the head or legs, placing the deceased face down to bite into the ground, burning them, and smashing them with a stone,” Poliński told the Daily Mail following that discovery.
“The sickle was not laid flat but placed on the neck in such a way that if the deceased had tried to get up… the head would have been cut off or injured.”
Other methods of anti-vampire rituals that have been discovered across Eastern Europe include a metal rod being hammered through the skeleton.