THE STORY OF NESSIE• Loch Ness, in the Scottish Highlands, is a
relatively large and deep freshwater lake about
23 miles in length. Sightings of its most
famous resident, the Loch Ness Monster
(affectionately referred to as “Nessie”), go
back nearly 1500 years. In 565 A.D., an Irish
monk named Saint Columba first reported
encountering a “water beast” in the vicinity of
Loch Ness … and the legend was born.
• The Loch Ness Monster is thought to be
a cryptic that reputedly inhabits Loch Ness, a
lake in the Scottish Highlands.
• It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in
Scotland and elsewhere, though its
description varies from one account to the
next, with most describing it as large. Popular
interest and belief in the creature’s existence
has varied since it was first brought to the
world’s attention in 1933. Evidence of its
existence is anecdotal, with minimal and
much-disputed photographic material
and sonar readings.
• The most common speculation among believers is that the creature
represents a line of long-surviving plesiosaurs.
• About 10,000 years ago, a glacier pushed through the Loch. That
scotches the idea that Nessie is a plesiosaur left over from the Days Of
The Dinosaurs. Fishy creatures don’t usually survive well in solid ice.
And, the dinosaurs and their relatives died out about 65,000,000 years
• Much of the scientific community regards the Loch Ness Monster as a
modern-day myth, and explains sightings as misidentifications of more
mundane objects, outright hoaxes, and wishful thinking. Despite this, it
remains one of the most famous examples of cryptozoology.
• The legend of the Loch Ness monster goes back to the Middle
Ages. There was a tale that the Loch had a mysterious creature
called a “water horse” or a “kelpie”, that would supposedly lure
travelers to their death.
• The earliest report of a monster associated with the vicinity of
Loch Ness appears in the Life of St. Columba by Adomnán,
written in the 7th century. According to Adomnán, writing about a
century after the events he described, the Irish monk Saint
Columba was staying in the land of the Pictswith his companions
when he came across the locals burying a man by the River
Ness. They explained that the man had been swimming in the
river when he was attacked by a “water beast” that had mauled
him and dragged him under. They tried to rescue him in a boat,
but could only drag up his corpse. Hearing this, Columba
stunned the Picts by sending his follower Luigne moccu Min to
swim across the river. The beast came after him, but Columba
made the sign of the Cross and commanded: “Go no further. Do
not touch the man. Go back at once.” The beast immediately
halted as if it had been “pulled back with ropes” and fled in
terror, and both Columba’s men and the pagan Picts praised God
for the miracle.
• It wasn’t until early 1933 that the Nessie myth really took
off, following the opening of a new road that ran along
the side of the loch, making it more accessible to public.
• In April 1933, Mr. and Mrs. Mackay drove on this new road
along the side of the loch. They were astonished to see
the water surging and boiling in the centre of the loch for
several minutes. The Inverness Courier reported on May
2 1933 that the Mackay couple saw “an enormous animal
rolling and plunging”. The news of this modern viewing
of “Nessie” rapidly spread around the world.