If you grew up in Scotland, chances are you’ve been enchanted by the legend of the Loch Ness monster. Films have been made, sightings have been claimed, and investigations have been carried out on the myth of Nessie, and to this day, people still visit the Loch to attempt to catch a glimpse.
But where did this myth of the Loch Ness Monster come from, how far can it be traced back, and the latest developments on its credibility? We’re here to take you through one of Scotland’s most famous legends, the Loch Ness Monster.
The myth of the Loch Ness monster goes back to before the 16th century AD. The story of the Loch Ness Monster appears in the Life of St. Columbia, written by the author Adomnan. Adomnan wrote about an Irish Monk, Saint Columbia, witnessing an attack of a ‘water beast’ along the shores of the Loch Ness. Columbia and his followers tamed the monster, and the stopped attack was perceived as an act of God and became a religious story.
People believe this is the origin story of the Loch Ness Monster. However, it is thought that monsters and legends were commonly believed and feared in Scotland during this time. Celtic culture has long recorded folk stories of water kelpies and water beasts, and it’s thought this story was to be a variation of similar stories.
Whilst this is believed the earliest recorded story of a monster living in the waters of Ness, it is not considered the first recorded official sighting.
Fast forward to the 1930s, sightings of the Loch Ness monster started to revise the old legend of the Loch Ness Monster. A man named George Spicer and his wife spotted ‘an extraordinary form of animal’ lurch in front of their car in July 1933.
George described the Loch Ness monster as having a large body, a long neck that resembles an elephant neck, and no limbs. The monster allegedly threw itself towards Loch Ness, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. Spicer described it as the closest thing he’d ever seen to a dinosaur or a dragon.
A few months later, a photographer named Hugh Gray published the first photograph of a blurred image of the alleged monster. A year later, a veterinary student reported sighting a creature with a long neck resembling a cross of a seal and a plesiosaur. Then, in May 1938, a tourist shot a 3-minute film of Loch Ness, which appeared to capture a large object afloat on the surface.
Hundreds of sightings were reported from here onwards, including video recordings broadcasted on the BBC in May 2007. With technology rapidly improving, reported sightings continued. In 2014, enthusiasts reported that a satellite image on 2014 Apple Maps depicted a large creature just below the surface of Loch Ness.
Investigations and Searches
After the sightings reported in 1933, an extensive search was directed by Edward Mountain in 1934. Twenty men with cameras searched the Loch Ness for five weeks straight, working long days and back-to-back hours. The team took several photographs. However, none were considered conclusive. Zoologists reported the sightings of 1933 would have probably been a large grey seal.
The following significant investigations followed the creation of the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau (LNPIB), a society formed to study the Loch Ness Monster and prove it was real. The group engaged large groups to visit Loch Ness and watch the Loch from vantage points with film cameras and telescopic lenses. From 1965 to 1972, it had a caravan camp and viewing platform at Achnahannet and sent observers to other locations up and down the Loch.
This formation led to the Sonar Study, carried out from 1967 to 1968. A Chairman of the Electronic & Electrical Engineering at the University of Birmingham volunteered his services and equipment to the LNPIB. Sonar equipment recorded movement throughout the Loch and discovered creatures were moving within the Loch at a rate not typical for fish, at a speed of up to 10 knots.
Fast-forwarding to modern times, the most recent and substantial investigation was carried out in 2018 by a team of international researchers. A DNA survey was carried out on the Loch and found that no DNA of large fish like sharks or catfish was found. No otter or seal DNA was obtained either, though there was a lot of eel DNA. The study conductor, Prof Neil Gemmell, stated he could not rule out the chance of eels of extreme measurement, though none were found.
The Loch Ness is the second deepest lake in Scotland, and Scottish locals are fond of the theory that perhaps the Loch Ness monster is just a very good hider.
Nessie has become a mascot for Scotland over the years, and even if she isn’t scientifically proven, we still love her. To this day, Loch Ness is one of the most famous bodies of water in the world and is visited by tourists in their masses to try and catch a glimpse of the monster.