Medieval English mutilated their dead – to keep them from rising.

The Guardian unearths the truth about medieval Yorkshire’s drastic measures to prevent the dead from walking:

The research published by Historic England and the University of Southampton may represent the first scientific evidence in England of attempts to prevent the dead from walking and harming the living – still common in folklore in many parts of the world.

The archaeologists studied 137 pieces of broken human bones, found in the pits of the village. Their conclusion, published on Monday in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, is that the most plausible explanation for the burn marks and cuts found on the skulls and upper body bones was deliberate mutilation after death. The scientists believe the intention was to keep the dead from walking and spreading disease or attacking the living.

Simon Mays, skeletal biologist at Historic England, said: “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. If we are right, then this is the first good archaeological evidence we have for this practice.”

[via the Folk Horror Revival]