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Archaeologists find 'zombie' graveyard in West of Ireland

ArchAeologists have unearthed a 'zombie' graveyard in Co Roscommon dating from the 8th Century.

The gruesome discovery was made by a team from the Institute of Technology Sligo, which discovered that skeletons were interred with large rocks placed in their mouths to prevent them rising from the dead at a historic site overlooking Lough Key, Co Roscommon.

According to chief archaeologist Chris Read, who led the Royal Irish Academy-funded dig, 'deviant burial' took place in circumstances where the people feared that the deceased would rise from the grave and terrorise them.

'Deviant burials' are sometimes associated with demonic possession and the revenants (deceased) or the 'walking dead' often tended to be people who were outsiders in society.

In ancient Ireland the mouth was seen as the route by which the spirit entered and left the body; hence the reason for placing a large rock in the mouth. "Sometimes, the soul could come back to the body and reanimate it or else an evil spirit could enter the body through the mouth and bring it back to life.

"In this case, the stones in the mouth might have acted as a barrier to stop revenants from coming back from their graves," explained Mr Read.

One of the men was between 40 and 60 years old, and the other was a younger adult, probably between 20 and 30. The two men were laid side by side and each had a tennis-ball-sized rock shoved in his mouth.

Mr Read's discovery is to feature in a documentary to be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel in early 2012.

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