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Ancient Mysteries

Medieval villagers feared the walking dead

April 3, 2017 | Comment icon 10 comments

Some medieval villagers were terrified that the dead would rise from their graves. Image Credit:
The residents of Wharram Percy once burnt the bodies of the deceased to stop them turning in to zombies.
Archaeologists studying bone fragments dating back to between the 11th and 14th centuries have revealed that the people who lived at a medieval village in North Yorkshire once destroyed the bodies of the dead because it was believed they would rise from their graves to attack the living.

The research, which was conducted at Historic England and Southampton University, strongly indicated that the buried remains at Wharram Percy had been cut up and burnt in a fire.
"The idea that the Wharram Percy bones are the remains of corpses burnt and dismembered to stop them walking from their graves seems to fit the evidence best," said biologist Simon Mays.

"If we are right, then this is the first good archaeological evidence we have for this practice."

"It shows us a dark side of medieval beliefs and provides a graphic reminder of how different the medieval view of the world was from our own."

Source: BBC News | Comments (10)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Likely Guy 5 years ago
They were just practicing responsible composting.
Comment icon #2 Posted by glorybebe 5 years ago
Eeeewwww!!  lol
Comment icon #3 Posted by Rlyeh 5 years ago
They didn't have to worry about burying anyone alive.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Buzz_Light_Year 5 years ago
Comment icon #5 Posted by glorybebe 5 years ago
What I find interesting is that so many  different cultures believed in zombies.  The fear of the dead shows up in history so often.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Orphalesion 5 years ago
The idea of the restless dead in any form was a feature shared in pretty much every culture. Particularly in Pan-European mythology the idea of the dead somehow having the power to cause harm or death to their living relatives was widespread. At some point even freshly dead bodies were regarded with extreme fear and even being in the same room as a newly deceased was thought to cause ill luck.  Often the dead being restless and harmful was linked with improper burials or  caused people to dig up and mutilate dead bodies. I read that part of it might have come from primitive people not understa... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by glorybebe 5 years ago
And yet others almost worship death.  Very interesting to think about.
Comment icon #8 Posted by and then 5 years ago
I always assumed that the Irish tradition of "waking" the dead, came from such a fear.  Having a body dressed up in a box there in the home while his family and friends cried (and drank) and laughed (and drank) and expressed their anger at the loss (and... well, you get it) was about making sure that ole Paddy well and truly was gone on and wouldn't be returning to settle any claims, so to speak   I have to say that growing up around such a tradition wasn't altogether bad, but as a child it was creepy. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by RabidMongoose 5 years ago
There must have been a few cases of the Undead to have started all this hysteria off in the first place.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Scrunchkruckets 5 years ago
i be like yo frank wat the hel took u so long get iver here with those 14 century nails and scratcha ma back *****

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