Skeleton - Bones

Anglo-Saxon Dangerous Dead Burial In Nottinghamshire

In the Middle Ages, the rise of many beliefs creeping out of ancient folklore surfaced. One of them is the vampire, alongside witches that were common and werewolves. In modern times, when digging in the ‘old country,’ one might find rather strange burials.

The Middle Ages Fortune-Tellers

Back in Medieval Times, people didn’t have meteorologists to explain Mother Nature’s behaviour. They didn’t have the luxury of biologists telling them not to drink stagnant water. Instead, people had other ways to explain diseases and poor crops.

People of the Middle Ages often tried to find someone to blame, and it would come from dark places. With the Church spreading its wings across Europe, witchery was the popular belief. 

Pagan - Altar - Witchcraft
Pagan – Altar – Witchcraft

Scandinavians would cross over the seas to the British Isles for better weather in the early days of the Dark Ages. They fled harsher environments to survive. But to do so, they raided the land to get territory for their people. 

With that said, Danes, Norsemen and Swedes often brought ‘seers‘ with them. Seers were their form of witches that would be in contact with the gods and a fortune-teller mixed in one. They would use runes, bones, and trinkets to do their ‘magic.’ They could also curse someone or remove a curse.

The Dark Ages Had Vampire Walk

Witchery was the main cause for people to blame for anything terrible happening. However, witchery wasn’t enough when diseases would strike, especially ones that nobody accustom them to.

Within kingdoms would often be a church, more like a chapel or a monastery. But folklore wasn’t dead, and neither were the creatures from heathen days. The conversion from Paganism to Catholicism was well-undergo.


When plagues ravaged villages and homes, people would try to explain how it happened. Plagues killed people, and their corpses would leave a trail of blood dripping from their mouths due to lesions. How did they explain those bleeding mouths? Vampires.

After all, villagers didn’t have much education to rely upon, and back then, even nobility couldn’t explain plagues. They had healers, priests, and later on, ‘plague doctors’ and ‘physicians.’ But they had no morticians to explain how corpses decompose, and cutting a dead body open was desecration and against God.

What About This Blair Witch Burial?

It was in 1959 that excavation began in hopes of building a new school on Church Street, Southwell, Nottinghamshire. However, the undertaking of this new project took quite a turn when skeletal remains emerged.

The skeletons found on site were of Anglo-Saxon and were inhumation burial. But this is not the first burial found in and around Church Street. Ever since the year, Charles Daniels excavated those skeletons, close to two hundred and fifty more surfaced. 

Vampire Skeleton
Vampire Skeleton

According to Dr. John Blair, back in 2009, they didn’t know those burials were ‘dangerous dead.’ What Charles Daniels found was not standard burials of the dead. It didn’t follow the ways of the Church for a regular burial. It didn’t even follow the roots practices of Pagans. 

From the findings of Charles Daniels in 1965, notes and photography of the dead found their way into historical records. The remains or bones left behind show stakes and iron nails piercing the shoulders, heart, and ankles. That practice is unique to Southwell but widespread in the early Anglo-Saxon period.

A Building Built In One Era Leads To Another And Another

Evidence led to a Roman villa built in and around the Church Street site back in 1787. Because of further archeological studies, evidence of a bathhouse surfaced as part of the Roman villa in the East Wing. There were several other rooms found with mosaic flooring in the South Wing. 


In 2008 and 2009, the site was under the care of Pre-Construct Archaeological Services Ltd. It permitted them to further the discovery of the burial site. It revealed more structural remains, including a stone wall dating back to the second century AD.

The Church itself is obscure and a mystery that no one has solved as of yet. It brings us closer to the ancient Saxon church and its cemetery at Southwell. Needless to say, the pieces are coming together.

The Disturbance Of The Dead

Charles Daniels proceeded with more excavations regarding the South Wing of the Roman villa. Thirty more Saxon skeletons showed up in the room area, while six more were in the villa. At this point, rooms had numbers for names to help straighten out the puzzle. 

But those remains were from Catholic burials as the skeletons had an east-west placement. This tradition we carry to this day in funerals finds its logic in the Holy Bible. When the second coming of Jesus Christ happens, he will show up East. For that reason, the corpses’ heads face East to see it. Of course, this scripture might be influenced by Paganism as they, too, follow the sun’s pattern of rising and lowering.

Medieval Cemetery — Archeological Site — Cambridge
Medieval Cemetery — Archeological Site — Cambridge

The second section, further in the East, showed an entirely unique pattern. Two narrow, diagonal dugouts crossed over Roman features. In those trenches, the remains of severely disjointed skeletons showed up. There were at least a dozen of those skeletons found in those ditches. But there was an exception.

Ancient Rusty Nails
Ancient Rusty Nails

The ‘dangerous dead’ exception showed that the remains were buried and maybe even reburied without desecration. However, it was done with another leg and lower arm bone. This burial was outside the churchyard, which proved quite disturbing for early Anglo-Saxon people.

The iron studs and stakes were parts of a dark burial ritual. They often reserved the tradition for unnatural deaths and the fear of the supernatural, maybe a ‘white walker,’ which was a Dane practice. It might be speculative at this point, but all signs are there to prove the existence of supernatural belief back in the early Dark Ages.

But dead men tell no tales…

The OCD Vampire

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