Legends are full of scary boogeyman stories that can really titillate true fans of horror. These stories are usually closely related to a specific location and its lore, but over time they find their way to popular conversation and even mainstream media. The story of Black Annis is a prime example of this, one that is sure to scare and fascinate horror aficionados.

Black Annis, also known as Black Agnes or Black Anna, is a folklore legend of the 18th century local to the Leicestershire County in England. Whether it is her visual descriptions, her cruel habits, or her loud wails and noises that could be heard from miles away, Black Annis was a scary proposition for the families living in the area, especially for the children for whom she had a taste.

Here is a quick look at the immensely interesting story of Black Annis, the terror of Leicestershire.

Origin Stories of Black Annis

While there is no clear indication of the origin of the Black Annis legend, one possible theory indicates that she is the witch incarnation of the “hermit of the forest,” a Dominican nun called Agnes Scott who lived in the area in the 15th century. Apparently, Agnes ended up living in a cave situated near the Dane Hills, the famous haunt of Black Annis, and ran a colony of lepers there. After her death, in the 15th century, her spirit might have turned into the creature that we have come to known as Black Annis.

Another theory states that Black Annis might actually be an incarnation of the witch who foretold the death of Richard III when he was passing over the Bow Bridge in Leicester. While both of these theories are rather sketchy, they do open up a new perspective on how legends and lore often become intermingled with the lives of actual people living in the times.

Habits and Description

Black Annis is a horrific, despicable figure who inspires fear and panic. She is known to be frail and very tall, with blotchy blue skin. She also has long, razor-sharp nails like talons and pointy, sharp teeth. The hag-life figure is also often described as ugly or disfigured, and some say she had only one eye.

black annis

Illustration by Daniel Jiménez Villalba

Black Annis was rumored to be living in a cave system in the Dane Hills, a place that has been immortalized in lore as “Black Annis’ Bower.” Her favorite activity seems to be finding and kidnapping local children, especially those that have been misbehaving. She would bring her prey back to her cave where she would proceed to first drink the blood of the child and then eat its flesh.

When done eating, she would then proceed to hang the skin of the corpse to dry on an oak tree which was at the mouth of her cave, the same tree behind which she would often lie hidden in wait to waylay her prey. The objective of this was to collect the dried skin and eventually sew a skirt for her to wear using only the skin of dead children.

She was known for kidnapping children from their home, usually by inserting her long hands inside unguarded home windows and stealing infants from their beds. Reportedly, this started the trend of homes in the area having very small windows, or only one window. When deprived of her usual food, she would also eat farm animals and cause dismay to farmers in the area.

Black Annis

She would only venture out of her cave in the dark, as the sun was supposedly detrimental to her. Her grinding teeth would be audible from a long distance, and her foreboding howls were taken as warning for families in the area too. Misbehaving children were routinely put in their place by their parents who would refer to Black Annis and her antics.

Eventually, her cave was filled up with dirt and she was rumored to have traveled to the cellars of Leicester Castle using the intricate connected cave system. She was often described to have “the run of the castle” in the late 19th century. Over time, she has become a beloved part of Leicester culture where her birthdays are celebrated.

Such is the popularity of her lore that Black Annis has also been adopted as a character in the DC Comics universe as one of the alter egos of the Crazy Jane or Kay Challis character in the Doom Patrol storyline.

Black Annis

Key Takeaways

The legend of Black Annis has been popular over the years due to the sheer pull and enigma of the central character, a scary, diabolical hag who would terrorize children and feed upon them. Her striking appearance has also contributed to the longevity of this lore. For horror fans, this is indeed an interesting story to learn about. For those who love to know about boogeymen and witches, Black Annis is an enduring character with lots of fascinating stories.


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#Folk horror | #Monster horror | #Capital M monsters

scary studies

Last Updated on August 23, 2022.

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1 Comment

  1. You are bloody brilliant. One in a million.

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