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The Loch Ness Monster – Fact or Fiction

Animals in History | May 24, 2018

In Northern Scotland, there’s an area known as the Scottish Highlands in which lays a famous urban myth. The Loch Ness Monster or Nessie, as it is more commonly referred to by some, is believed to dwell in the lake, Loch Ness.

The Romans arrived in the area around the first century A.D. At the time that area had been occupied by a tribe they called the Picts or painted people because it’s been said they were covered in tattoos. Tribes of old are known to have carved images on rocks and in caves some of which are still found in the area around Loch Ness and the Picts were no different with their drawings of animals, some very realistic and identifiable. However, there’s one that stands out as completely different from their other drawings. It’s an image of a weird looking creature that has a very long neck and a small head. It also has feet formed like flippers, an unusual beast to say the least. This is the earliest known evidence described by some scholars as a swimming elephant that has gripped the curiosity of mysterious legends in the Scottish Highlands for at least 1,500 years.

Geographically, the lake lies along an inherent fault line that spans across Scotland. The first recorded account of a Nessie sighting is found in the biography of Saint Columba who is recognized as introducing Christianity to Scotland around 565 A.D.

Scottish folklore suggests that the mythological aquatic creature rose out of the lake and grabbed a local farmer who was taking a swim but whose life was spared by Saint Columba who in the name of God shouted at the creature and banished it back to the depths of the lake. 

R.K. Wilson photo of "Nessie" 1934.

Since then, numerous rumors have spread throughout Scotland about these very strange occurrences at Loch Ness. One theory suggests that they happened during a period of construction on a road that runs next to the North shore of the lake in 1933. The drilling and man-made explosions during the construction are believed to have created an upset in the foundation of the lake which most likely forced this creature into the open from deep below.

It wasn’t until a year later in 1934, the sightings began to be reported by individuals, one by a surgeon, R. K. Wilson, who was traveling from London. Dr. Wilson happened to snap a photo of the water lizard-like creature. It was described as having a long neck and small head that surfaced just above the water. Needless to say, ever since this story made the headlines and the gossip spread, the Loch Ness Monster has been the topic of arguments regarding the truth of its existence globally. 

A group of laypersons decided to form the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau during the 1960s in order to conduct a consistent analysis on this fascinating, elusive water creature. This observational survey spanned a decade and during this time, 20 sightings, more or less, were reported annually. Even sonar equipped mini-submarines were brought in to investigate the extreme depths of the Loch in attempts to find and validate the existence of Nessie.

In decades past, Loch Ness has seen its share of fatalities. Amongst those was a World War Two bomber’s plane from Wellington. The engine failed forcing the pilot to crash into the lake. Four decades later, the plane was found and resurrected from the deep waters and to the surprise of many was still in great shape. The plane was taken to Brooklands Motorsport and Aviation Museum, where it can still be seen today. This same mysterious lake was also where John Cobb lost his life in an attempt to break the water speed record in 1952 with his speed boat named the “Crusader”. Although he broke the record and became known as the first man to travel over 200 mph on water, he lost control of the boat causing the immediate disintegration of boat and body. A memorial was placed at the edge of the Loch to remember and honor this great achievement by Cobb.

It wasn’t until 2017 that more reports of “official” sightings were recorded, making it the year for the most sightings than any other since the beginning of the 21st century. Although only eight sightings of Nessie were officially logged, one can argue that’s a pretty good number for an urban legend. The most recent of those is a photo taken by Dr. Jo Knight from Lancaster University showing what looks like a “fin” in the water.

Even though, inconclusive studies and investigations which have been conducted by amateurs and professionals alike fail to prove the existence of the sea creature, Nessie, many observers wholeheartedly believe they have seen a huge creature in the water.

So, be it fact or fiction, the legend of the Loch Ness Monster lives on. 

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Marion Wijnberg

Writer

Marion lives in Ohio and has two grown children and one grandson. As well as loving the time she gets to spend with them, she also enjoys rescuing animals. Marion currently has 2 cats and a dog. She also loves to travel, read, play tennis and go horseback riding."