The skeletal remains of a "vampire child" with a padlock attached to its ankles have been found in a necropolis packed with people's bodies.
Archaeologists from the University of Nicolaus Copernicus in Torun, Poland, uncovered the 17th Century corpse in the village of Pien in south-eastern Poland, a hotspot for such ghoulish discoveries.
The group discovered the remains of 30 people in a necropolis in the cemetery who were "feared not only during life, but also after death".
READ MORE: Creepy remains of female 'vampire' pinned down by sickle discovered
Archaeologist Dariusz Poliński from the University of Nicolaus Copernicus said of the child, believed to be five to seven years old: "The padlock under the foot symbolises the closing of a stage of life and is meant to protect against the return of the deceased, which was probably feared.
"Such practices originated in folk beliefs and are sometimes described as anti-vampiric."
Being buried face down was believed to make the deceased "bite into the ground and not harm the living".
Less than five feet away in September 2022 the remains of another female "vampire" were found, pinned down by a sickle.
The team who found her remains theorised that the strange padlock and sickle positioning was a way of keeping the woman in her grave if she tried to rise.
Poliński said at the time that the strange elements of the burial were consistent with defences against "the return of the dead".
Inside 'inaccessible' town which 'banned cars' and has roads too small for vehicles
He said: "Ways to protect against the return of the dead include cutting off the head or legs, placing the deceased face down to bite into the ground, burning them, and smashing them with a stone.
"The sickle was not laid flat but placed on the neck in such a way that if the deceased had tried to get up most likely the head would have been cut off or injured."
He added the padlocked big toe on the skeleton's left foot likely symbolised "the closing of a stage and the impossibility of returning".
The woman also had a silk cap on her head, indicating she had held a high social status.
In Bulgaria in 2016 archaeologists uncovered a 13th Century staked "vampire" at Perperikon, an ancient Thracian site in the south of the country, with an iron rod hammered through his chest.
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