The allure of immortal shapeshifters has captivated human imagination across generations, yet these tales of monstrous beings have a long-standing history. The European belief in vampires dates back centuries, as evidenced by unusual burials found in various regions.
In Poland, a skeleton with a rock and wooden stake signifies efforts to prevent corpses from rising. Similarly, deviant burials in Bulgaria involved iron-driven through bodies to deter suspected vampires.
Medieval manuscripts reveal a fascination with unusual races and werewolf myths. Early laws sought to control the actions of “madly audacious werewolves.” Legends of werewolves spread as Vikings settled in new territories, and by the 16th century, werewolf stories merged with witch hunts and trials. Some perceived lycanthropy as a form of mental affliction, not a physical transformation.
Though the term “zombie” wasn’t used, references to revenants—reanimated corpses—appear in medieval texts. The unsettling tales of deceased loved ones terrorizing communities were not uncommon. The church often advised digging up and burning the bodies to end these disturbing visits.
Throughout history, these tales of the supernatural have evolved, but the roots of modern horror can be traced back to the Middle Ages. The fascination with vampires, werewolves, and zombies, albeit depicted differently, reveals the timeless appeal of exploring the mysterious and macabre.
Top image: Skeleton from the vampire grave of Sozopol. Source: Bin im Garten / CC by SA 3.0.