Deer’s head and upside down cross found on centenary stone in New Forest

<span>The stone upon which the head and cross were laid.</span><span>Photograph: Christopher White/PA</span>
The stone upon which the head and cross were laid.Photograph: Christopher White/PA

A New Forest resident has described the “appalling” moment a rotting deer’s head with an upside down cross next to it was discovered on a centenary stone, in an incident seemingly linked to the occult.

Chris White, a retired police officer who works in Shappen Stores in Burley village, removed the grisly object after member of the public came into his shop to report it on 8 May.

He said: “It was myself that removed the severed head from the memorial stone in the centre of the village. A member of the public came into the shop and said there’s a severed head on the centenary stone with a hedonistic upside down cross.

“I just removed the head and put it somewhere in the forest to let it rot and kept the cross for the police. People are quite appalled because children were walking by, because it was a rotting head after all.”

The following day, Hampshire constabulary received a report that five sheep had been stabbed in Cadnam.

It comes after the remains of about 50 hares and two birds of prey were found dumped in the early hours outside a community shop in Broughton, also in Hampshire, in March. Two men were arrested and later released over the incident.

In February, 25 dead wild animals including pheasants, hares and a decapitated deer were found close to a primary school on Danes Road in the village of Awbridge, six miles away from Broughton.

Occult symbols were painted on a sheep that had been killed in 2019, and on the door of St Peter’s Church in Bramshaw in a previous spate of animal attacks in the New Forest.

The dead ewe, found in Penn Common Road, Bramshaw, in November 2019, had a pentagram painted on its side and a star on its face as well as an inverted cross and the number 666, which is linked to the devil.

White said rumours had circulated the latest animal attacks were linked to a Green Man parade, which happened shortly afterwards, and added: “There is no evidence to suggest it was but everyone is clutching at straws.”

He added that the village had historic links with witchcraft as it was home to Sybil Leek, who was called “Britain’s most famous witch” in the 1950s.

Country Watch officer police constable Matthew Thelwell, of Hampshire police, said: “We are investigating two incidents, the most recent of which was reported to us on 9 May. This was a report of five sheep which had been stabbed in Cadnam.

“The previous incident was reported to us on 8 May. On that occasion, a deer’s head was found on a milestone next to Burley High Street.

“Officers have been in contact with the owner of the sheep, as well as Burley Parish Council.

“We understand just how distressing it is for someone to make a discovery such as this, as well as how upsetting these incidents are for the community as a whole.”