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The Source:

Roland Villeneuve & Jean-Louis Degaudenzi :
"Le Musée des Vampires" [1976]

The Case:

I will more or less translate what little is there.

In the Cemetery of Dyhernfurth, in Silesia, in the part that is reserved for the "infamous" (suicides, banished people, homosexuals, excommunicated people...) a skeleton was discovered that had been covered with rocks. The skull had partly been pierced by a long iron nail. It appears that oral and written traditions don't mention this kind of anti-vampire protection. It would seem that especially the Southern Slavs have used this method. (cf. J. Kostrzewski, Kultura Proposka, Posen, 1949, p.374).

The Date:

We have no date whatsoever. However, the use of German place names suggests that the discovery of the skeleton must have taken place when the territory was still under German, or, although that seems less likely, Prussian rule.

The Place:

We are dealing with German names here. The old German maps tell me that "Dyhernfurth" was a place that could be found somewhere NorthWest of "Breslau". Which means that nowadays it is a Polish place. "Breslau" has been turned into "Wroclaw". And "Dyhernfurth" has been renamed to "Brzeg Dolny".

Personal Comments:

Perhaps it is not much of a case and some might even say that it isn't a case at all. But - much as I love well-documented cases of vampirism, I also do like concrete archaeological evidence that appears to prove the fact that superstitious people have been taking measures to prevent the return of the restless dead.

But then I found another mention of this skull in Albert Hellwig's "Verbrechen und Aberglaube", which was published in 1908.

"Auf ein derartigen Aberglauben geht vermutlich auch die Durchlochung eines Schädels zurück, der im Breslauer Altertumsmuseum aufbewahrt wird. Dieser Schädel war in der Gegend von Dyhernfurth aufgefunden und durch einen zwölf Zoll langen Nagel durchbohrt."

To keep a long story short: around 1908, the skull must have been kept in the Alterstumsmuseum of Breslau. Much has happened since then. Couple of wars, different rulers...

Possible Follow-Up:

We could try to find Villeneuve and Degaudenzi's source for this. And we could try finding the book by Kostrzewski that is mentioned. We could also try to find out how many cemeteries Brzeg Dolny has, or has had. We could see if there still is a special section for the "infamous". We could even go to Breslau to see if the skull still exists. I'm not going to do it for you. These are things that you have got to find out for yourself!

© 2014 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed October 2014

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