Melrose Abbey, The Vampire of

Melrose Abbey, The Vampire of

(pop culture)

One of the famous cases of an actual vampire was chronicled by twelfth-century writer William of Newburgh. His account of a vampire that haunted Melrose Abbey in England began with a priest who neglected his holy vows and office and devoted his days to frivolous activity. Following his death, he came out of his grave and tried to enter the cloister at the monastery. Failing on several occasions, he began to wander through the countryside. He found his way to the bedside of a lady to whom he had been chaplain. His several visits to her prompted her to report the incidents to the brothers at the monastery.

Several of the brothers set up a watch at the graveyard where the priest was buried. As his companions sought relief from the chilly air by a fire, one monk kept watch and saw the dead priest arise from the grave and approach him. He hit the dead priest with a battle axe and forced him back into the grave. The earth opened to receive the corpse, closed over it, and gave the appearance of having been undisturbed.

When the three who had been warming themselves returned, they listened to and believed the account of the monk who reported his encounter with the body of the dead priest. At the break of day they opened the grave. There they found the corpse. It bore the mark of the wound previously reported by the monk, and the coffin was swimming in blood. They burned the body and scattered the ashes.


Glut, Donald G. True Vampires of History. New York: H C Publishers, 1971. 191 pp. Newburgh, William of. Historie rerum anglicanum usque ad annum. 1198. In Chonicles of the reigns of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I. R. Howlett, ed. London: Roll series no. 82, 1884–1989.