Bulgarian archaeologists have unearthed two skeletons dating back to the the Middle Ages with iron rods pierced through their chest to supposedly stop them from turning into vampires.
According to pagan beliefs, people who were considered bad had a stake stabbed through their heart, to stop them from turning into vampires.
National history museum chief Bozhidar Dimitrov said: “These two skeletons stabbed with rods illustrate a practice which was common in some Bulgarian villages up until the first decade of the 20th century.
“I do not know why an ordinary discovery like that became so popular. Perhaps because of the mysteriousness of the word “vampire”.
“These people were believed to be evil while they were alive, and it was believed that they would become vampires once they are dead, continuing to torment people.
“The curious thing is that there are no women among them. They were not afraid of witches.”
Bulgaria is home to around 100 known “vampire skeleton” burials and archaeologists stumbled across the latest discovery in the Black Sea town of Sozopol.
Villagers believed that by plunging a stake into the heart of the dead it would pin them to their graves and stop them from leaving at midnight to feast on human blood.
In 2004 archaeologist Petar Balabanov discovered six nailed-down skeletons at a site near the eastern Bulgarian town of Debelt.
He said the pagan rite had also been practised in neighbouring Serbia and other Balkan countries.
Legends of vampires date back thousands of years with the most famous tale being about Romanian count Vlad the Impaler, known as Dracula, who staked his war enemies and drank their blood.