A new scientific study done by the University of Southampton unearthed a total of 137 bones from the combined remains of at least 10 people from a burial pit dating back to the 11th-14th centuries AD. These medieval human bones unearthed from a deserted English village have revealed a surprising ancient practice.
They found that the corpses they were from were burnt and mangled. Many of the bones had knife-marks on them- indicating that the bodies had been dismembered and decapitated. Probable cannibalism has been ruled out. The knife marks on bones are not clustered around joints and muscle attachments as seen in cannibalism, but mainly in the neck and head region.
Researchers believe that this was done by villagers to prevent the dead bodies from rising from the tombs, spreading disease, and torturing the living.
Medieval writers have explained several methods to deal with ghosts, one of which was to dig up the menacing corpse, dismember and decapitate it, and burn the sections in a fire. Most probably, those mutilated and burnt body parts discovered were the outcomes of such medieval fears.