Black Annis

Black Annis is a bogeyman figure in English folklore. She is imagined as a blue-faced crone or witch with iron claws and a taste for human (especially child) flesh. She is said to haunt the countryside of Leicestershire, living in a cave in the Dane Hills.

She supposedly goes out onto the glens at night looking for unsuspecting children and lambs to eat, then hangs their skins around her waist. She would reach inside houses to snatch people, which was the professed reason why houses in that area had small windows. Legend has it that she used her iron claws to dig into the side of a sandstone cliff, making herself a home there which is known as Black Annis's Bower.

This legend is of disputed origin. Some have claimed the origin can be found in Celtic (see Danu) or Germanic mythology (see Hel) [ [ Black Annis - leicester legend or Widespread Myths ] ] or as a reference to Aniseed, though the tales origns are most likely to be a memory of Agnes Scott, a Dominican nun and hermit who cared for a leper colony in the area during the fifteenth century. [ [ BBC - h2g2 - Black Annis - Legend of Leicester ] ]

In popular culture

In his run on "Doom Patrol", Scottish comics writer Grant Morrison made a monstrous figure with the same name one of the superpowered "alters" of his character Crazy Jane, who suffers from multiple personality disorder. This version of Black Annis is a blue-skinned, red-eyed, psychopath with sharp iron claws growing out of her knuckles.

Black Annis made a brief appearance in the short story "London Falling", which was published in the comic book "2000AD".

"Black Annis" is also the name of a song by Antje Duvekot. A different song of the same name, by Spiral Dance, is about Black Annis being misunderstood as an evil witch.

In the "Dungeons & Dragons" role playing game the annis hag is a powerful monstrous humanoid.

The character "Black Aliss" in Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series may have been inspired by "Black Annis".

Black Annis is mentioned briefly in The Alchemyst and it's sequel, The Magician. She is said to be a vile and dark creature, and even thinking about her can cause madness.

Black Annis is mentioned as one of the Wych-kin in Chris Wooding's 'The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray', and is initially suggested to be Stich-Face's mother.


* Katharine Briggs, "An Encyclopeidia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Boogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures", "Black Annis", p24-5. ISBN 0-394-73467-X

External links

* [ Mysterious Britain entry]

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