Archaeologists Uncover Why 17th-Century Child Was Padlocked To His Grave


John Oyewale Contributor
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Archaeologists unearthed the remains of a 17th-century child padlocked to his grave in southeastern Poland, Reuters reported Monday.

The child, aged six or seven, was found in a cemetery in Pien, about 170 miles south of Warsaw, according to the Reuters report. The child reportedly was found buried face down and padlocked by his feet to the grave with a triangular padlock in what appears to be an effort to prevent it from resurrecting from the dead to feast on the living.

The discovery suggested that the people of that era firmly believed in vampires, ghosts, zombies, and other paranormal phenomena, the report noted.

“It is thought that people were buried face down for fear they would bite,” Professor Dariusz Polinski, the lead archaeologist and a researcher on medieval burials at Nicolas Copernicus University in Torun, said, according to Reuters. “So that if they awoke and wanted to rise, they would bite the ground. That is the current understanding…These were people who, if this was done intentionally, feared contact with these people because they might bite, drink blood,” he added.

Only the child’s leg bones were discovered as the grave had been desecrated sometime after the burial and most bones removed, Reuters noted. (RELATED: Researchers Find Girl Buried With More Than 150 Animal Bones)

The discovery was the latest find in the cemetery – back in 2022, the archaeologists reportedly had found the remains of a 17th-century woman similarly padlocked to her grave but also with an iron sickle across her neck in an apparent effort to keep her from rising from the dead.

“We know from anthropological tests that she was really sick. Perhaps this disease caused such symptoms that after death it was believed that she might come back as a demon, or, let’s say, harm the dead, so that’s why she was secured,” Professor Polinski said, per Reuters.

The cemetery, he reportedly said, was “a cemetery for rejected people, who were certainly feared after death, and perhaps also during life … who were suspected of having contacts with unclean forces, people who also behaved differently in some way.”