Monster Monday: The Melrose Vampire

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Melrose Vampire.

A photograph of Melrose Abbey by Henry Fox Talbot (1844)
A photograph of Melrose Abbey by Henry Fox Talbot (1844)

The story of the Melrose Vampire is recorded by the medieval historian William of Newburgh. Melrose is a town in Scotland near the English border. There was an abbey nearby built in the twelfth century. According to the legend, there was a chaplain to a lady who lived near the abbey who did not live a priestly life. He was know as the “Hundeprest” or “dog priest” because he liked to hunt with hounds. He was so wicked that when he died, his spirit was denied rest. He came back nightly and terrorized the village, screaming, and moaning, and attacking people and drinking their blood.

He tried to enter the abbey, in the form of a monstrous bat, but the monks drove him back. After that he returned to terrorize his former mistress, and she begged the monks for help. One night they sent four monks to guard the grave of the suspected vampire, expecting him to rise up at midnight. When he failed to appear, three of the monks left for shelter in a nearby cottage, but one remained.

No sooner had they left, but the grave opened up and the vampire appeared in his monstrous form. He tried to attack the monk, but the monk hit him with an ax, and he retreated back into his grave. The next morning, the four monks dug up the body to discover it exactly as it had been when the priest was buried, except for the giant ax wound. The carried it outside of the church burial grounds and burned it, scattering the ashes to the winds.

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