When I took over as host, from Eilthireach, I meant to start a monthly thread on various bits of folklore that might be of interest. Life, as ever, during the growing season has kept me from starting this. So, fashionably late
, here's the first one.The Myth
On high ground to the right as you exit Leicester by King Richard's road, or so I'm told, is the place once calle Dane Hill. Respectable homes and at one time a convent occupy what was the most dreaded, dangerous, barren patch of ground in all middle-England - the home of the terrifying Black Annis. Her home was said to have been clawed out of the bare rock by her talons. It was here that the dread hag, with tattered hair and rotten yellow fangs lay in wait for naughty children who strayed too far from home.
Parents told their children of the dreadful doom that would happen if they played too long or wandered at night in the hills. Black Annis would snatch them, skin them alive and gobble them up. Her cave was surrounded by the bones of the unfortunate and their flayed skins could be seen draped over a nearby oak tree. Once the skins were dry she'd add them to her skirts of tanned childskin.The Roots
Tales of Black Annis were still being told to children upto recent times. Victorian folklorists linked tales of Black Annis to ancient Celtic myths and the name Annis to (D)Anu the wife of the Celtic Hero God Lludd.
Prof Hutton has, in his inimitable way, traced her back to a hermit/nun called Agnes Scott who may've looked after a leper colony.
Possibly these are linked to the Cailleach and ancient child sacrifice that then got mixed up with memories of Agnes Scott.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)http://gewessiman.blogspot.co.uk