The remains were one of two skeletons found with iron rods through their chests, thought to be a pagan ritual to stop them becoming vampires.
A “vampire skeleton” is to go on public display next week after the 700-year-old remains of two men with iron rods stabbed through their chests were unearthed in Bulgaria.
The remains, which date back to the Middle Ages, were buried in a pagan ritual believed to be aimed at preventing the men from turning into vampires.
According to pagan beliefs, people who were considered bad had a stake stabbed through their heart, to keep them from becoming vampires.
Archaeologists discovered the skeletons while excavating a monastery near the Black Sea city of Sozopol.
One of the bodies will now go on display at the National History Museum in Bulgaria.
Museum head Bozhidar Dimitrov said: “This was a pagan belief widespread in the Bulgarian lands in the 12th to 14th centuries. People were very superstitious then.
“Throughout the country we have found over 100 such ‘vampire’ burials of mainly noblemen from the Middle Ages who were branded bloodsucking immortals.”
Dimitrov explained that these people were considered bad during their lifetime and according to pagan beliefs could become vampires after death and continue to torment the living.
“That’s why they were often pierced with rods, wooden or metal,” he said.
The Balkan country, which remained pagan until it embraced Christianity in the ninth century, borders Romania – birthplace of the 15th century ruler often associated with the popular fictional character upon which Dracula is based.
Romania’s notorious 15th century ruler Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler was no vampire, but his cruelty and name inspired the fictional Dracula created by novelist Bram Stoker.
The finds in Bulgaria have sparked interest from vampire enthusiasts all over the world and the small Balkan country may seek to capitalise on its pagan heritage.