Medieval villagers in England mutilated the dead to make sure that the corpses didn’t rise up from the grave after burial, new research shows.
English archaeologists have discovered that people who used to live in the Wharram Percy village in Yorkshire, England during the Middle Ages used to chop, smash, and burn the recently dead, according to the Guardian.
Published in the Journal of Archaeological Science this past Monday, their research concludes that the mutilation was intentional and done after death.
“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,” Simon Mays, a skeletal biologist at Historic England, told the Guardian. “If we are right, then this is the first good archaeological evidence we have for this practice.”
While cannibalism wasn’t uncommon back in those times, these 11th to 14th century villagers did not cut up their dead by the joints, as common in butchery. Instead, they focused on dismembering their heads.
“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,” Mays added.
The remains uncovered as part of this new study belonged to roughly ten individuals between the ages of two to 50, reports the Guardian, with 137 broken human bones found in total amongst them.