The Loch Ness Monster is a lake-dwelling creature said to inhabit the waters of Loch Ness in Scotland.
Description of Loch Ness Monster
The Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie as she is sometimes known, is generally considered to be a large, long-necked creature – think of a brontosaurus with flippers and a more slender body and you’re pretty much there.
The legend of the monster has been around for well over 1500 years. There are carved, standing stones which can be found around Loch Ness. These were left by the Picts, who once inhabited the Highlands of Scotland.
The carvings reflect the Picts’ fascination with animals and, while almost all of the carvings are of recognizable animals, there is one that is somewhat of a mystery. This carving illustrates a long-necked creature with flippers, and is probably how the legend of the Loch Ness Monster began.
Scottish folklore tells us that large animals have long been associated with water – anything from a small stream to a big loch. These beasts were known as water-horses or water-kelpies, and were believed to have magical powers and evil intentions.
Stories abound of children being coaxed into the water and onto a creature’s back with the promise of a ride on its back. When the children got on, they got stuck to the creature and were dragged beneath the water. It is said that their livers were found on the shore the day after.
Loch Ness Monster Sightings
Many, many sightings have been made of Nessie over the years. It’s worth noting that Loch Ness is an enormous body of water, measuring over 22 miles in length and between 1 and 1.5 miles wide, reaching a depth of 754 feet.
In fact, the first recorded sighting was back in 565 AD, when a monster (Nessie’s ancestor, presumably) was spotted in the loch by Saint Columba, who was crossing the loch with his followers.
The legend is that Saint Columba realized that that beast was going to attack a man who was swimming in the loch, so he raised his hand to the beast, invoked the name of God and told the creature to “go back with all speed”. Seemingly, the creature complied.
An alternative version of the story is that the creature caught and ate a local farmer, but Saint Columba managed to force it back under the water before it could do more harm.
Although accounts of strange events prior to the 20th century do exist, it wasn’t until the 1930s that Nessie began to hit the headlines. What follows is not an exhaustive list, but rather a highlights reel.
In 1933, Mr and Mrs Mackay were enjoying a leisurely drive alongside the loch when they say they saw Nessie basking in the middle of the water. Also in 1933, a local man took a photo of what is believed to be Nessie.
Construction of the A82 (the road running along the north shore of Loch Ness) started in 1933, and it is thought that the blasting and construction may have disturbed Nessie and brought her out into the open.
A number of sightings were made the following year, including one by R. K Wilson, who took what is perhaps the most famous photo of the alleged creature.
A motorcyclist called W. Arthur Grant wondered if he had seen the monster walking along the side of the loch. The creature hurried down the bank and disappeared from view before Grant could get in for a closer look.
Brother Richard Horan saw what he thought was Nessie at the Fort Augustus end of Loch Ness. He was only about 30 yards away from the creature, which he said had a white stripe at the front.
Another photo was taken in 1955, this time in Urquhart Bay – again, this proved to be inconclusive.
It wasn’t until 1960 that someone managed to capture what is alleged to be Nessie on film. Tim Dinsdale, a renowned Loch Ness author, filmed what was possibly Nessie. Critics suggested the ‘creature’ was more akin to a small motor boat, but there was some dubiety.
1982 saw a large-scale search being mounted. The entire loch was scanned by sonar using a line of boats, but Nessie, if she is there, managed to avoid detection!