Cave of Horrors

In what seems like the opening scene of a horror movie, British cavers discovered hundreds of centuries-old protective marks and ritualistic drawings apparently designed to capture, trap and/or repel evil forces in an ancient cave system about 150 miles north of London.

The drawings date to the medieval and early modern periods and were found before but dismissed as graffiti from more recent eras.

Members of Subterranea Britannica noticed that the etchings were actually apotropaic (protective) marks scrawled all over wells, ceilings and around holes and crevices, the cave’s operator said in a news release.

Also, caves have “operators” apparently.

The etchings include diagonal lines, boxes and mazes believed to be spells for capturing or trapping evil spirits. There are also ‘VV’ marks that are believed to represent Mary, “Virgin of Virgins,” as well as ‘PM’, for “Pace Maria.”

But it’s not clear what, specifically, the markings were trying to stymie.

The caves have a history of being occupied by Neanderthals as far back as 50,000 years ago, followed then by Homo sapiens. The site is known for the art on its walls dating to some 12,000 years ago, including images of bison, reindeer, birds, as well as more abstract symbols.

The cave may now also be home to another kind of art altogether.

Grave of the Vampire

An archaeologist in Bulgaria says that he has unearthed a “vampire” grave containing a skeleton with a metal stake in its chest.

Nikolai Ovcharov said the spooky grave was found during excavations at the ruins of the ancient Thracian city of Perperikon, in southern Bulgaria.

This “vampire” grave is one of two unusual burials recently discovered by Ovcharov at Perperikon, according to the Bulgarian newspaper 24 Hours. The other reportedly contained a mother and child whose bodies had been positioned in such as a way that they resembled an image of the Virgin Mary and child. Ovcharov said this sort of ritual burial was used as a way to ward off the plague.

Both graves are estimated to date back to the first half of the 13th century.

In 2012, archaeologists discovered two other 700-year-old skeletons pinned down with iron rods through their chests near the town of Sozopol.

It is believed that these people were evil while they were alive, and  that it they would become vampires once they are dead and continue to torment people.

According to a 2012 BBC report, at least 100 “vampire” graves have been found in Bulgaria to date, and similar burial sites have been found in other Balkan nations. Vampire legends, the news outlet said, “form an important part of the region’s folklore.”