Loch Ness Monster
The Loch Ness Monster is a lake-dwelling creature said to inhabit the waters of Loch Ness in Scotland.
The creature resembles a plesiosaur and is thought to have remained in the lake for thousands of years.
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.
Some have likened Nessie to a plesiosaur, a long-necked aquatic dinosaur that is thought to have gone extinct 65 million years ago. One theory states the creature may be a descendant of the dinosaur who somehow managed to stay alive.
The legend of the monster has been around for well over 1500 years. There are carved, standing stones that 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.
Sightings and Tales
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 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, proved 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 was there, managed to avoid detection!
If anything, sightings have actually increased this century. The legend of Loch Ness was boosted in 2014 when a satellite image from Apple Maps appeared to show a large creature in the water. This was quickly debunked when proven to be the wash from a boat, but the incident led to a general increase in interest and sightings.
In 2018, historian Ricky Phillips was walking along the banks of the loch when he stopped to snap a picture of the scenery. He heard a commotion in the water, and when he looked at the photo, he saw a strange creature with a long neck and a head similar to a plesiosaur.
In 2017, paleontologists gave those who think Nessie might be a descendant of a plesiosaur hope when it was announced that the dinosaur had lived in fresh water lakes. It had been previously assumed that the plesiosaurs only lived in salt water.
Other explanations for Nessie have ranged from hoaxes to pieces of wood, to fish such as sturgeon, to ducks, and even a whale’s penis.
Where to find
nessie.co.uk, “Nessie Diary,” accessed August 3, 2017.
pbs.org, “The Legend of Loch Ness,” accessed August 3, 2017.
visitinvernesslochness.com, “A place filled with mystery & legend,” accessed August 3, 2017,
https://www.livescience.com/45014-loch-ness-monster-apple-maps.html, “Loch Ness Monster on Apple Maps? Why Satellite Images Fool Us,” accessed March 16, 2023,
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/may/02/loch-ness-monster-video-best-footage-in-decades-or-another-log, “The Loch Ness monster video: ‘The best footage in decades!’ Or another log?” accessed March 16, 2023.
Last modified on March 16th, 2023 at 6:14 pm