It's a chilling rhyme, with a veiled warning, that has been recited by children of a mining community for over 70 years.
“When night falls, enter the woods at your peril,
“For inside lurks something worse than the devil.
“Avoid at all costs the gathering place, where at midnight the pig-man roams on Cannock Chase.”
Since the 1940s, the pig-man – half-man, half-swine – has allegedly been spotted trotting through the Staffordshire beauty spot, a haven for paranormal activity, his haunting squeals echoing across the heather at dusk.
And one man has dedicated a decade of his life to discovering if there’s substance to the Black Country myth – or if the pig-man’s just all pork, sorry, talk.
Lee Brickley, from Cannock, has gathered eye-witness accounts for his debut book, UFOs, Werewolves and The Pig-Man: a veritable A to Z of The Chase’s weird and wonderful. It’s a crackling read.
Lee, aged 27, is convinced the truth is sn-out there.
And he thinks he’s found it following a recent email from the grandson of a former soldier.
The human hog was a tale manufactured by military top brass to keep the public away from sensitive wartime installations.
The whistleblower, who has asked not to be found, said:
“He told me when he was stationed on Cannock Chase, he and some others had been tasked with spreading rumours around the local area about a human/pig hybrid on the loose in the woods.
“He said this was a known military tactic for keeping civilians away from army occupied areas.”
Yet the pig-man is still being seen, with Lee receiving reports on a weekly basis, belying claims the army was simply telling porkies. If he’s not real, then there’s an extremely ugly individual out there.
‘Claire’ is the latest to encounter the half-man, half-ham creature.
In an email to the author she said: “Kneeling down in the dirt was what looked like a man, wearing trousers, a blazer, but no shirt. His face was totally deformed and I can almost certainly say he had a snout.”
‘John and Anne’ were forced to flee the bacon beast.
They wrote to Lee: “The thing was seven feet tall. From the neck down it looked like a man, even wearing clothes, but its head was far too big for a human and it had an elongated face with a snout-like nose.
“When I pointed it out to my wife, she became terrified, so we started walking more quickly towards our car. That’s when we started to hear this really high-pitched squealing noise...”
Lee is keeping an open mind over the pig-man, but maintains he has seen UFOs and ghosts.
“I think the majority of UFO sightings are nuts and bolts crafts,” he said. “Presuming they are not from outer space, they are earthly, secret military crafts.”
He excitedly read an email from one believer. “Holy cow!” it gushed. “I have seen the pig-man, but he was more man-like. PS: I do remember being in deep space at the helm of a space ship once.”
“Well, she’s seen something,” reasoned Lee, almost apologetically.
Possibly a psychiatrist, Lee.