The subject of the story is the discovery of two more bodies, these dating to the 8th century AD, with stones stuffed in their mouths:
It seems to me like there have been a lot of similar stories over the past few years. I wonder if this is because archaeologists are sensitized to the issue, so they are making more careful notes of such oddities, or if they always have and now the press is paying more attention.
The "deviant burials" were comprised of two men who were buried there at different times in the 700s. One of the men was between 40 and 60 years old, and the other was a young adult, probably between 20 and 30 years old. The two men were laid side by side and each had a baseball-sized rock shoved in his mouth. "One of them was lying with his head looking straight up. A large black stone had been deliberately thrust into his mouth," Chris Read, head of Applied Archaeology at IT Sligo, said. "The other had his head turned to the side and had an even larger stone wedged quite violently into his mouth so that his jaws were almost dislocated," he added.
Initially, Read and colleagues thought they had found a Black Death-related burial ground. Remains of individuals buried at the end of the Middle Ages with stones stuck in their mouths have hinted at vampire-slaying rituals. It was believed that these "vampire" individuals spread the plague by chewing on their shrouds after dying. In a time before germ theory, the stone in the mouth was then used as a disease-blocking trick.
Since the vampire phenomenon didn't emerge in European folklore until the 1500's, the archaeologists ruled out this theory for the 8th century skeletons. "In this case, the stones in the mouth might have acted as a barrier to stop revenants from coming back from their graves," Read told Discovery News.
I also wonder about these confident assertions that villagers of the early Middle Ages were not afraid of disease-spreading vampires. There were frequent epidemics throughout medieval times, and the plague had come to Ireland in the 530s. I am not sure that the modern distinction between vampires and zombies makes any sense in this context. I am also not sure that information about how the dead attack the living collected in Renaissance Italy necessarily applies to 8th-century Ireland. Fear of the evil dead is an all-to-common feature of many societies, but it appears in myriad forms.