Also called Black Annis
Image by Jenny Clarke
taken from the cover of
Leicestershire Legends retold by Black Annis (Bob Trubshaw ISBN 978 1872 883 779)
Deep in the Dane Hills area of Leicester there is said to be a dark dank cave inhabited by a terrifying woman-creature known as Cat Anna. Her skin is blue, her hair is matted unkempt fur, her fingernails are blood-blacken claws, her tongue long long and sandpaper rough, she is naked apart from a girdle made of babies-skulls.
They say that Cat Anna has her own underground tunnel running from her cave-lair right into the compound of the Leicester Castle, a building of ancient repute. It is not known if Richard III ever walked this tunnel, but I could resist the opportunity to band-wagon-jump the latest Leicester-related tourism-myth.
I have heard tell that there is a certain gatehouse in the Castle wall, that to this very day children refuse to pass through after dark. A place where youth tremble, weep and withdraw, calling out piteously the name Cat Anna.
According to the local folklore Cat Anna lives in a deep dank cave at the foot of the Dane Hills, rehearsing ambush tactics in her head. In her lair she is peaceful contemplating dinner. Her long blackened fingernail-claws click-clack and she thinks again about dinner.
It is said that the trees around the entrance to Cat Anna’s lair are adorned with the empty skins of dead children. Her victims slain, sucked dry, their skins discarded, like dirty linen, strung out to dry out on the death-trees thereabouts.
Children have told me that Cat Anna drops on her victims from the vaulting in the gatehouse arch, like a ginormous bat, enveloping her dinner in her boney black membranous batwing arms. Scuttling back through the tunnel with boys-bones a-crunching, Cat Anna lurks in the shadows of her lair and devours. She sucks out the very essence, from wobbling guts to slithery bone marrow. Then she flings away their skins, which catch on the up-thrown branches of the yearning yew-trees ranged around the entrance, to dry in the sun, like pork-scratchings, or parchment.