The area around the Dane Hills in Leicestershire, (now built upon) was said to be haunted by a creature known as Black Annis, possibly the remnants of some pagan goddess in darker times.
She took the form of a one eyed wizened crone, immensely strong with sharp tearing teeth, long black claws and a blue face. She was said to hide in a giant oak, long since felled, that was once the remnants of a great forest, which covered the area. From this lofty perch she would leap out and eviscerate unwary travellers.
Although partial to all human flesh she took particular delight in eating young children, whom she flayed alive. She then hung their skins like a grisly trophy upon the walls of a cave known as Black Annis’ Bower. She is said to have created the cave with her bare hands tearing through the rock with her iron claws.
One can only surmise the intimidation parents used, with the horror of Black Annis looming in their children’s nightmares.
Black Annis was also identified with a huge cat. A drag hunt with the body of a dead cat was carried out from the Bower into Leicestershire until the 18th century.