The Morag (Mòrag, Mhorag) is a cryptid that allegedly dwells in the depths of Loch Morar in the highlands of Scotland.
Loch Morar (Scottish Gaelic: Loch Mòrair) is a freshwater loch near the seaport village of Mallaig in the Lochaber region of the northwestern highlands of Scotland.
The loch is Scotland’s fifth-largest by surface area, with an area of 26.7 km2 (10.3 sq. mi.). It has a maximum depth of 310m (1,017 ft), making it the deepest freshwater body in the British Isles.
Locals claim to have sighted the Morag in the loch on several occasions.
The Morag is the second-best-known Scottish loch monster after the legendary Loch Ness monster, also known as Nessie.
The name, Morag, is from Scotland’s Gaelic language but has Latin origins. It’s a girl’s name and supposedly means “great” or “eminent.” The name is also a pun on the name of Loch Morar itself.
Loch Morar is one of several Scottish lochs (lake or sea inlet) with an alleged resident cryptid. Reported sightings of a monster living in Loch Morar go back at least to the 1800s.
However,local folklore and beliefs about Morag have evolved over the centuries.
Morag as a harbinger of death
In 1902, the folklorist Alexander Carmichael visited the Lochaber area to collect stories about Morag from the residents.
Carmichael’s scripts, which aheld by the University of Edinburgh’s Carmichael Watson project, are significant because they provided documentary evidence of local beliefs and stories about Morag from earlier times (the 1800s and early 1900s).
Carmicheal reported in his writings that at some point the Morag was seen as a beautiful mermaid, an enchantress with flowing hair.
Sailors considered sighting a mermaid an omen of death by drowning. Thus, Morag sightings were considered a harbinger of death.
Sightings were also associated with the death of prominent members of the local communities. Carmichael learned that the last reported sighting of the Morag in this form was in 1898, when Aeneas Macdonnell, a local leader, died.
The Morag could appear at any time of the day. Residents, including local church officials, reported sighting her in the daytime.
However, there were conflicting accounts about Morag’s appearance.
Some witnesses described the she-monster as assuming the form of a black heap that rises to the water’s surface and floats along like a water-logged boat.
People feared her manifestation and described her in uncomplimentary terms.
Morag as a mermaid
Other accounts were more consistent with Morag’s identification as a mermaid:
She was a human-fish chimera. Her lower body was like a fish, but her upper body was like an adult female. She had long blond hair that fell over her shoulders and upper body. According to the accounts Morag was said to have snow-white skin and large breasts.
The mermaid was shy and never appeared except when a community leader died or a member of one of the local clans died in a battle.
When a death occurred in the community, she would be sighted wailing and moaning in distress and mourning the fate of the departed.
Carmichael’s account suggested that Morag used to be at the center of organized cult activity that celebrated her as a water deity.
Morag as a Nessie-like monster
However, beliefs about Morag evolved, possibly due to the influence of accounts about the Loch Ness monster.
More recent descriptions of Morag come from multiple sightings. Locals now promote accounts that make her closely related to Nessie.
Witnesses in a 1948 sighting described Morag as a “serpent-like creature about 20ft long.”
A more widely reported sighting occurred in 1969. It involved two locals: Duncan McDonell and William Simpson. They claimed that Morag was about 25–30 feet long and had structures that looked like three humps on the upper part of the body. The beast had rough, scaly, leathery skin and a head about a foot across.
Photographs reportedly taken by Miss M. Lindsay in 1977 allegedly showed a creature with a curved back and humps.
Cryptozoologists have speculated about Morag’s identity.
Some suggested it could be a kelpie or water horse, a shapeshifting water spirit in Scottish folklore.
A popular theory suggests it could be a prehistoric dinosaur–such as the plesiosaur (order Plesiosauria)–that scientists believe to be extinct.
Other suggestions include a giant eel, a demonic entity, a giant catfish, or a large sea creature trapped in the lake.
Sightings and Tales
There have been multiple reported sightings of Morag in Loch Morar. Several of the sightings involved many witnesses at once.
The first reported sighting of Morag occurred in 1887.
A sighting reported in 1948 involved nine people traveling on the lake in a boat near the spot where the 1887 sighting allegedly occurred. According to the witnesses, they saw a serpent-like creature about 20ft long.
Duncan McDonell and William Simpson sighting
Another alleged sighting in 1969 involved two men, Duncan McDonell and William Simpson. While crossing the lake in a boat, they encountered and accidentally hit the monster. It attacked the boat, and McDonnell grabbed an oar to ward it off. Simpson had a rifle or shotgun. He opened fire on the alleged beast. The shot might have hit the beast because it stopped attacking and sank into the water until it was out of sight.
Charles and Donald Simpson
In 1975, two brothers–Charles and Donald Simpson–reported that while on a bird-watching expedition, they sighted Morag in the Morar River that flows from the loch to the sea.
Donald claimed it was a powerful 20-foot monster.
In 1977, Miss Lindsay presented two photographs that she claimed showed Morag. She snapped the two photos in quick succession. The photos allegedly showed the monster moving from one point to another on the loch.
In July 2013, Scott Justice, a resident of East Kilbride, claimed to have snapped photos of Morag. The alleged sighting occurred in the afternoon while he and his wife were having a picnic outside Swordlands Lodge within sight of Loch Morar.
Justice’s wife was the first to notice something moving in the water close to the shore before disappearing.
Doug Christie and Charlotte
In August 2013, British tabloids reported that a couple, Doug Christie and Charlotte, claimed to have sighted a dark shape in Loch Morar about 20 feet long. The black shape appeared on three separate occasions over two days. One sighting lasted about 10 minutes, the couple claimed. Charlotte said she thought at first that it was a whale but later realized it was Morag.
Alistair MacKellaig of Mallaig
Another recent sighting involved Alistair MacKellaig of Mallaig. He claimed that he and a group were fishing in a boat when Morag surfaced about 50 yards away. They saw three humps on its back, but its head remained underwater.
Based on the reported sightings, many believe a Nessie-like monster lives in Loch Morar, but there is no conclusive evidence.
Several cryptozoological organizations, including the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau, have searched Loch Morar but found no evidence that the loch was home to a monster.
Biologists dismiss the claims, saying the lake lacks sufficient biomass (total mass of plant or animal life) to support a creature as large as the alleged monster.
|Other Name/s||Morag, Mòrag, Mhorag|
|Type||Lake Monster, Monster|
|Habitat||Countryside, Lake, River|
Where to find
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-21574832, “Loch Morar monster Morag sightings uncovered,” accessed on February 6, 2023.
https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/weird-news/tourists-shock-morag-loch-morar-2219656, “Tourists’ shock as Morag of Loch Morar – Scotland’s second most famous monster – makes a comeback after 20 years,”accessed on February 6, 2023.
https://www.topfoto.co.uk/asset/347510/, “Possible photograph of Morag, the monster of Loch Morar,” accessed on February 6, 2023.
https://www.scotsman.com/arts-and-culture/scottish-fact-week-loch-morar-monster-1539043, “Scottish fact of the week: The Loch Morar Monster,” accessed on February 6, 2023.
https://www.scottish-at-heart.com/morag-loch-morar.html, “Morag of Loch Morar,”accessed on February 6, 2023
Featured Image: Morag is an alleged monster that lives in Loch Morar in Scotland. Pic credit: Pixabay
Last modified on July 12th, 2023 at 2:32 pm