Author: Violet Fenn

WHERE ARE THE BRITISH VAMPIRES?

THIS IS AN OLD ARTICLE that I salvaged when my website The Skull Illusion closed down. There’s no reason for it to be here other than that I needed content filler whilst I was building this site, and also I like staring at Aidan Turner as Mitchell from Being Human. Because who wouldn’t?? So it stays.   Vampires are everywhere, aren’t they? They’re in our books, on our televisions and striding menacingly across cinema screens worldwide. Much of Europe is thick with myths of fanged terror, from Empusa of Ancient Greece (daughter of Hecate, she seduced men before drinking their blood) to the pijavica of Eastern Europe. Given the dark traditions of the UK and Ireland, it comes as a surprise therefore to find that we have little or no inbuilt vampire traditions. The closest our early history comes to vampire stories are 12th century references to ‘revenants’ rising from the grave to walk again. Different to your run of the mill anonymous zombies, revenants were usually known to those around them and were often reported to have attacked their own families. The medieval writer Walter Map described incidents of revenants walking the streets of Hereford in the late 12th century, as well as the methods for their destruction – this usually involved burning the disinterred body after decapitating it and removing the heart. Although revenants were often said to leak fresh blood when staked, this...

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