A MUM-of-two believes she is the latest person to spot Oxfordshire's most famous big cat.

Lisa London says she saw a panther-like creature stroll across the road in front of her in broad daylight on Tuesday morning.

She joins a long line of people going back to the 1990s to see what they swear is a big cat stalking the wilds of west and north Oxfordshire which was once dubbed 'the Beast of Burford'.

Mrs London, 43, said she was driving from her home in Bicester to Oxford and had just passed through the village of Upper Arncott at about 9.30am on Tuesday when she had her encounter.

She said: "As I came out of the residential bit there were no other cars on the road.

"You go down a country road and what I saw was maybe 100 yards in front of me: it essentially strolled across the road from the right to the left then leapt into the bushes.

"It looked like a black panther – it was shiny black and there was no way it was a dog or a deer or a domestic cat, it was too big."

Mrs London estimated the creature was a metre tall and a metre-and-a-half long.

She added: "It was jet black, and you just don't expect to see that on any other animal.

"It wasn't scary – it was beautiful."

Mrs London had never even heard of the fabled 'Beast of Burford' and it wasn't until she got home and told her husband about her close encounter that he remembered hearing similar stories.

The pair went to Google and brought up an Oxford Mail story about a previous sighting of the legendary creature.

Oxford resident Steve Archibald, who runs the website bigcatsightings.com, said it was not the first time he had heard reports of sightings in the Bicester area, though he had not heard of one for several years.

Most recently Mr Archibald said he received a call from Thames Valley Police a few months ago to say a farmer near Chipping Norton reported he was in his tractor when he saw a big black cat running across his field with a muntjac deer in its mouth.

Over the past ten years he has received something like 40 calls of Oxfordshire sightings in total.

He said: "There definitely, definitely are big cats in Oxfordshire, but they are the most elusive animals on the planet: people who live with them in America might see paw prints and droppings but go their whole lives without seeing one.

"In Oxfordshire there is so much open space and woodland where they could hide."

Theories behind how wild populations get established include escapes from sanctuaries or intentional releases by exotic animal owners, he said.

In the past five years, Thames Valley Police has been called to a total of 10 big cat sightings around the county.

In one of the most famous sightings, a suspected big cat was photographed in a field opposite the Masons Arms pub in Burford Road, Brize Norton, in 2005. The photograph now hangs on the wall of the pub.