Cannock Chase is an area of woodland and heath land which has been designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is located between Stafford and Cannock and covers an area of about 26 square miles. Years ago it became familiar to many people when a series of murders took place here, three girls were murdered and buried on the Chase. Raymond Leslie Morris, a motor engineer from Walsall, was found guilty at Stafford assizes of one of the murders in 1968 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He is still in prison over 40 years later as one of the country’s longest serving prisoners. However moving further forward in time a series of strange events seem to have been centred around this location known as Cannock Chase, what follows are extracts from newspapers which have reported on these strange events.
Below are a series of articles that have appeared in the Cannock Chase Post and Birmingham Post.
Panther alert on new sightings 1 September 2005
Sightings of a snarling, black panther sparked a police search this week as terrified residents steered clear of Cannock Chase.
Tuesday saw the latest in a long history of panther sightings on the ancient woodland.
Eyewitnesses have told us of a large, muscular, black cat, roughly three feet long, prowling through the woodlands near Cannock Chase Enterprise Centre.
Terrified witnesses fled as the beast came within metres of them, seeming to appear from nowhere.
Warehouse worker Anthony Cooper, 42, told us: “It was around lunchtime. A lot of people are saying they heard something like a growl, but I didn’t.
“I heard a rustling noise in the bushes.
“As soon as I turned my head I could see something in the trees – a large black shape moving slowly.
“It was acting as if it couldn’t even see me. It just strolled past, at a distance of about ten feet, went into some thicker bushes and was gone. I called some more people over, but as I did, they ran over telling me what they had just seen. It was an eerie feeling.”
Eyewitness Claire Clarke, receptionist, said: “It was around midday. I was walking through the woods with my boyfriend, Carl.
“We were talking as we walked through the woods. All of a sudden I felt him let go of my hand and he shouted, ‘look!’”
Just ten feet away from them the black creature prowled past, as if it hadn’t even seen the shocked pair.
“We didn’t know whether to run, climb a tree or stand still,” a shaken Claire said yesterday. “It was growling to itself as it walked along. I’m still shaking now to think of it.”
“It’s typical that I’d decided to leave my mobile phone on my desk at work, else I would have had a picture of it. It definitely looks like a panther.
“I’ve read people saying that it’s perhaps a domestic cat. Well to me it looks like about seven or eight domestic cats rolled into one.”
A passing police patrol investigated the witnesses claim, but the animal had already fled into the undergrowth moments after appearing.
Claire added: “What if I had been an 80-year-old? Or if we had had a child with us who was running around nearby trees? You can’t help but think it would have been a bloodbath.”
Big Cat expert Nigel Spencer said: “Most people say they have seen pumas or panthers. Cannock Chase is one of the hot spots for big cat sightings in the Midlands.”
Cannock Chase has always been a hotbed for unexplained sightings.
More than 2,000 of black cats have now been recorded on Cannock Chase. Hundreds of UFO sightings have also been recorded over Hednesford Hills – land which was once used by druids for sacrifice and ceremony. Visitors to Castle Ring over the years have also reported sightings of a Bigfoot-type creature roaming the land.
‘Team Called In Over Bigfoot Sightings’ 14 February 2006
Reports were circulating today that a strange beast is roaming Cannock Chase – and now paranormal investigators are investigating.
A Bigfoot-type creature is said to be roaming the woodland of Cannock Chase and a number of eyewitness accounts are adding weight to allegations that Sasquatch – as Red Indians dubbed the creature – is alive.
Respected “X Files” reporter Nick Redfern has monitored sightings from Castle Ring to Slitting Mill.
And all of the locals who spotted the mystery beast give the same description – a giant, hairy creature with blazing red eyes.
Jackie Haughton sparked the Bigfoot alert with a sighting in the early hours of February 18, 1995, on the Cannock-Rugeley road.
Writing for Fate magazine, Mr Redfern reports: “She was suddenly forced to swerve the car and narrowly avoided collision with a large, shambling creature that stepped into the road at a distance of about 20 feet.
“Considering that she was travelling at high speed, said Jackie, it was a miracle that she didn’t hit it. The encounter lasted barely a few seconds, but she had caught sight of the animal and said it was man-like and tall, very hairy, with two self-illuminating, glowing red eyes. It quickly vanished into the trees.”
Jackie’s claims gained credence when a motorist and his party recorded a sighting on a night in September, 1998.
One of the party of four said: “It was a tall, man-like figure, sort of crouching forward. As we passed, it turned and looked straight at us.
“I would describe it as around 6ft 8in, very strong-looking and with a darkish, blacky-brown coat. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.”
Alec Williams had an eight second encounter with Bigfoot at Castle Ring – an ancient monument – in April 2004. He describes a 7ft creature, with short, shiny, dark brown hair, large head and eyes that glow bright red.
Mr Williams claims he saw what looked like a camera flash nearby and heard an “owl-like cry”. In another article dated May 2006 it mentions that Derek Crawley, chairman of Staffordshire Mammal Group, reported that the Sasquatch-type creature seen on Cannock Chase could actually have been a black panther. It was suggested that the witnesses had seen a big cat in a tree and mistaken the branches as arms.
The Chase has become involved in a transatlantic row with the United States over our treatment of the current crop of Bigfoot stories.
Websites devoted to paranormal activity across the globe have featured our stories prominently, with many researchers concluding the mysterious creature could have taken up residence over the Chase.
But certain contributors have reacted with anger at the less than reverential way Cannock folk have recorded their encounters with the beast.
The Post has featured a series of pictures and bizarre eyewitness reports from people claiming to have seen the elusive beast.
Many of the pictures we have featured have prompted derision. It seems we are not dealing with it seriously enough.
In fact, if you study the majority of the comments, you can’t help but imagine the famous Monty Python Sergeant Major issuing the order, ‘Stop it now, it’s getting silly’ to Cannock folk.
“There are interesting aspects of the whole Cannock Chase mystery that could be investigated and that would prove genuinely interesting,” one poster writes.
“But clearly dicking about on Photoshop for five minutes is easier than getting out and researching a story.
“The sad fact is that all this will do is make people less likely to come forward for fear of being ridiculed so the whole story grinds to a halt and the actual solution to the mystery remains elusive.”
Another poster is equally damning.
“I keep waiting to see how low my opinion of the coverage of the Cannock Chase Bigfoot story can get and everytime I think they can’t get any lower they somehow manage it,” he writes.
“The stories are accompanied by the god awful collection of Photoshopped snaps with pictures of gorillas and Chewbacca pasted into a forest scene,” another fumes. However, we at the Chase Post are not so quick to condemn. We believe people should be given the right to send us in pictures they believe show their encounters with the mystic beast.
To all those doubters, we ask you this: If you’ve never seen Bigfoot, how can you tell a person he does not resemble Chewbacca or King Kong? We rest our case.
Is the beast on the prowl 3 April 2008 By Mike Bradley
The disturbing discovery of the fleshless corpse of a mutilated deer on Cannock Chase is leading many to believe that the mythical beast of Cannock Chase is back and on the prowl.
Matthew Harrison, of Cannock, said that he was disturbed by the discovery. Every ounce of flesh seemed to have been stripped from the animal in a meticulous manner.
Matthew told us: “Me and the family were out for a walk at Cannock Chase on Sunday March 30.
“As we were walking I found a carcass of a deer.
“It was a very fresh kill – no smell and very few flies. What flesh was left was still red and fresh.
“To me, if the animal had died naturally, surely it would take a while for small predators (such as foxes) to dispose of the carcass, or for it to decompose.
“But the most interesting thing was that when I found another carcass only 200-300m away, this one had been killed or died a few months ago.
“Maybe the story of wild cats on the Chase are true, and this is one of its hunting places?”
Texas-based paranormal investigator and author, Nick Redfern, has spent many years investigating the mysterious ancient woodlands of Cannock Chase.
He said: “I’ve investigated quite a few big cat encounters on the Chase.
“There is definitely something weird going on and the theory that some of them (Bigfoot sightings) could be big cats in trees is a genuinely interesting one.”
And Martin Rainer, Cannock Chase Coordinator for Big Cats in Britain, said: “I strongly believe these big cats are out there.
“Maybe not in the heart of the Chase, but possibly around the fringes which do not receive as much human traffic as the main Chase.
“There are several theories as to what these cats are, but we can only go on the facts. “Seventy percent of all reported sightings are of a black animal.
“These can only be one of two – a black jaguar or a black leopard. Both are known as the Black Panther.”
Cannock bigfoot paranormal theory 14 November 2008 By Jonathan Tan , Cannock Chase Post
The Chase’s very own Bigfoot has been with us since 1879, documents have revealed. And as sightings of the creature continue to flood in, prominent cryptzoologist Nick Redfern declares: “It has paranormal origins!”
Dozens of eyewitness accounts of Bigfoot have been recorded in the area in recent years. As recently as September, a sighting was reported by a local resident, who described being chased by a terrifying beast whilst driving through Cannock Chase at 2am.
“This thing was the shape of a human, but stood about seven to eight foot tall.
As soon as it realised we had seen it, it stood up straight and ran towards us. This thing was definitely not human, it was huge! It wasn’t just tall, but broad and stocky, too. I don’t know whether it was flying or jumping or what.”
However, far from this being a modern phenomenon, local documents telling of a ghostly apeman have been uncovered dating back as far as 1883.
In ‘Shropshire Folk-Lore’, Charlotte Sophia Burne writes: “A very weird story of an encounter with an animal ghost arose of late years within my own knowledge.
“On the 21st of January 1879, a labouring man was employed to take a cart of luggage from Ranton in Staffordshire to Woodcock, beyond Newport in Shropshire.
“He was late in coming back. His horse was tired, and could only crawl along at a foot’s pace, so that it was ten o’ clock at night when he arrived at the place where the highroad crosses the Birmingham and Liverpool canal.
“Just before he reached the canal bridge, a strange black creature with great white eyes sprang out of the plantation by the roadside and alighted on his horse’s back. He tried to push it off with his whip, but to his horror the whip went through the thing, and he dropped it on the ground in fright.”
According to Mrs. Burne, when the man recovered from the fright, he returned home and excitedly spread the story.
A few days later, a policeman appeared and told the man: “That was the Man-Monkey sir.” Nick Redfern, a notable expert in the field who grew up in Staffordshire, insists that the Cannock Bigfoot is real – but not just a flesh-and-blood animal.
Mr. Redfern said: “I think the Cannock Chase Bigfoot has paranormal origins and is linked with the large amount of paranormal activity in the area.
“If this creature was flesh-and-blood, there would have to be more than one to ensure reproduction.
“!If there was a colony of them on the Chase, we would be seeing massive evidence of them feeding on the local animal population.
“But the amount of deer kills that have taken place are not anywhere near enough to feed a colony of these creatures.
“However, I am in no doubt that the reports people have made are genuine. I have spoken to a number of witnesses to the creature myself and I am convinced of their honesty.
“The Cannock Chase Bigfoot has to be a ghostly, paranormal-type thing, and not a large, physical ape.”
Writing online, Mr. Redfern says he agrees with the conclusion that “ancient man – who certainly constructed the Castle Ring – had mental abilities that extended far beyond our own, and was able to essentially tap into other realms of existence, and construct ‘from the mind’ images of bizarre and monstrous beasts that inhabited those same realms.
“The purpose of these beasts? To act as guardians to prevent any harm being done to the areas that ancient man deemed to be of spiritual significance.”
Hellhound stalking Cannock Chase? 12 March 2009 By Amanda Hall
Forget Bigfoot, panthers and UFOs…there’s something even more chilling on Cannock Chase.
It’s time for the fabled Hellhound – a portent of doom – to take a bow-wow.
Reports have been received on paranormal websites of the demonic dog roaming our area.
The hound, also known as the ‘ghost dog of Brereton,’ has been seen on numerous occasions stalking the roads leading into Brereton.
The apparition has been described as large, black, muscular, with sharp pointed ears and strangely glowing eyes. British folklore indicates that the black dog forewarns death.
The most prominent sightings happened in the 1970s, and early 1980s. Whilst driving through the Chase in 1972, Nigel Lea described seeing a ball of light crash into the ground.
He slowed down to take a closer look and was confronted by ‘the biggest bloody dog I have ever seen.’
Within a month one of Mr Leas close friends died in a terrible industrial accident, which Mr Lea believed may be connected to the dog appirition.
In the January, 1985, there was another report of the hell hound stalking Coal Pit Lane, Brereton. Mrs Sylvia Everett, of Cannock Wood Road, described a strange misty figure moving across the road as she and her husband drove on a warm and clear summer night. Although they could not explain the incident, Mrs Everett believed that it may have been connected to the to the dog-lore of Brereton.
Traditionally, demonic dogs are associated with grave yards, bridges, water, crossroads and places connected with violence and death.
Approaching Brereton on the Rugeley Road you come to an ideal crossroad, where the Rugeley Road, Colliery Road, Stile Cop road, and Startley Lane meet. The area is also associated with the former Lea Hall and Brereton Collieries – hazardous places where workers at times met with terrible accidents.
Could there be a connection between these sights and the spectral hound?
Cannock Chase Hellhound attracts attention from afar 26 March 2009
The Chase’s latest paranormal resident – the fabled Hellhound – has proved a hit all across the world with websites as far afield as the United States chronicling its history.
Last week The Post revealed the forest land had a rich history of spooky encounters with the demonic dog, which is believed to be a portent of doom.
The hound, also known as the ‘ghost dog of Brereton’, has been seen on numerous occasions stalking the roads leading into Cannock and Huntington.
And such is the interest in the story, websites such as Paranormal Nights – which runs spooky, adventure theme activities over the Chase and, American-based Creatures of Time, have all flagged our stories on the Hellhound.
Paranormal website Level Beyond has even asked visitors to the Chase to submit any spooky encounters to it them.
They write: “Over the years, Level Beyond has reported on various mysteries surrounding the English town known as Cannock Chase. Besides the alien and bigfoot references, another mysterious creature is said to roam the area: a big, black dog.”
The apparition has been described as a large dog with sharp pointed ears and strangely glowing eyes. The most prominent sightings happened in the 1970s and early 1980s.
The Post reported, while driving through the Chase in 1972, resident Nigel Lea described seeing a ball of light crash into the ground.
He slowed down to take a closer look and was confronted by ‘the biggest bloody dog I have ever seen’.
Within a month one of Mr Leas’ close friends died in an industrial accident, which Mr Lea believed may be connected to the dog apparition.
In January, 1985, Sylvia Everett described a strange misty figure moving across the road as she and her husband drove on a warm and clear summer night. Although they could not explain the incident, Mrs Everett believed that it may have been connected to the dog-lore of Brereton.
Giant serpent spotted on Cannock Chase 7 May 2009 by Mike Lockley
What’s long, floppy, usual concealed but hangs out at Cannock Chase more secluded spots?
It’s the fabled super serpent, that’s what.
Eyewitnesses claim to have spotted a 14 foot snake lurking in undergrowth – and paranormal investigator Nick Redfern believes it’s more than a monster mutant and may have links with the Loch Ness Monster.
Last week a rambler contacted The Post – which has also brought you accounts of panthers and even a Bigfoot type creature on the Chase – to say he’d spotted a python-sized creature near the German Cemetery. He described the creature as brightly coloured with a powerful head.
It’s not the first time walkers have been startled by a reptile more than three times the size of resident adders and grass snakes. In March, 2006, the Birmingham Post carried reports of a 14 foot snake moving through bracken near Birches Valley. The report stated: “The beast had a powerful head and colouring that stood out sharply against the greens and blues of the bracken.”
Mr Norman Dodd had an even more bizarre encounter in the scorching hot summer of 1976. In a later interview with Nick Redfern, Mr Dodd said he spotted the super-snake in a small Slitting Mill pool. “It was a bloody stifling day. I remember swigging something to drink and having a bite when there was something moving on the bank.”
He was stunned to see a seven foot long creature surface from the water and then bask on the fringes of the pool. “It sort of wriggled. It was like its whole body seemed to sort of shake and wobble as it moved.
“I know it saw me – or saw the car, definitely – because it looked right in this direction and then went back to what it was up to, just laying there.”
Redfern, on his ‘super serpent’ blog, said: “Dodd’s eye-opening report was one of those that almost sounded too good to be true – and yet the wholly independent story of a giant snake seen in the Cannock Chase woods in early 2006 suggested to me that such Loch Ness Monster-like beasts were indeed on the loose in the area – and, perhaps, they still are…
However, there are two more rational explanations. Pythons, a popular pet, have been known to be dumped by unthinking pet owners. They can grow to a huge length, but would not last long in our climate.
Also, grass snakes grow to quite a length – though nothing like the size of the super serpent recorded.