A woman in Russia was found dead in a forest with her head badly damaged. The body was partially buried in the ground with just the head above ground.

A man walking in the Yuntolovsky reserve forest near St Petersburg on Monday found the body of the woman approximately 500 meters from a highway. He immediately contacted the local authorities.

The woman, in her 40s, was sitting upright and cross-legged. Her head that was above the ground was completely destroyed by wild animals.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the woman, whose identity was not revealed by local media outlets, was likely alive when she was buried a week ago and was unable to free herself after that. The wounds on her face were inflicted post her death.

While recovering her body, police found gold chains and a pendant in her socks and pockets. The woman was wearing a tracksuit.

The authorities were investigating if there was a religious angle to the case. In ancient Russia, women who killed their husbands were buried in the same way.

Her body was sent for autopsy and police were waiting for the results to determine the exact cause of death.

Last year, the body of a missing Russian hiker was found tied to a tree in a forest in Shatura, near Moscow. The hiker, Ivan Klyucharev, went missing in 2017. Two years later, passersby found his remains chained to a tree and immediately informed the local authorities. There were handcuffs, metal chains and a video camera beside the body.

Police believed the man might have chained himself to the tree. During investigation, his friends told the authorities that the hiker, who was a survival fanatic, was "impetuous" and that they could imagine him chaining himself and throwing away the key.

Calling it a "tragic accident," police said the man might have been recreating an escape trick when it failed.

Police tape
This is a representational image showing a police tape. Reuters/Sergio Flores