07/06/2012 11:16 BST | Updated 07/08/2012 06:12 BST

'Vampire' Skeletons With Stakes Through Their Hearts Found In Bulgarian Black Sea Town Of Sozopol (PICTURES)

One of two skeletons found pinned through the chest with iron rods in Sozopol, Bulgaria

Two medieval skeletons with iron rods placed where their hearts once were have been unearthed in the Black Sea town of Sozopol, Bulgaria.

The bodies were pierced with the stakes in the belief it would keep them from turning into vampires, a historian explained.

Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of the Natural History Museum in Sofia, told AP corpses were regularly treated in such a way.

He told the BBC: “These skeletons tabbed with rods illustrate a practice which was common in some Bulgarian villages up until the first decade of the 20th century.”

Around 100 “vampire skeletons” have been found in Bulgaria, the BBC said.

In additional comments made to The Mirror, Dimitrov added: “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.”

Archeologist Kalina Kostadincheva as she cleans dust from a skeleton which dates back to the Middle Ages