Friday, April 27, 2012

Loch Ness Monster: The Legend of Nessy

The most famous mystery about Loch Ness surrounds the phenomenon of an enormous creature that is believed to live in the water – known universally as the Loch Ness Monster, or ‘Nessie’ as she’s affectionately known.
Where is it
Loch Ness and its monster are both found in Northern Scotland

What is it
Loch Ness is part of the Great Glen, an enormous fissure in the earth that just about splits Scotland into two. There are a series of lochs, rivers and canals that link the Atlantic with the North Sea. this is the most eastern of these.

Monster legend
Said to have started with an account of Saint Columba, in 565 A.D rescuing a swimmer from a lake creature. From then on stories of such a creature emerged periodically, but little is actually recorded until the 20th century
It was only after1933, when a new road was built along the lake shore and people were first able to visit the area in large numbers, that reports of sightings really took off.

For at least 1,500 years a legend has held sway in the Scottish Highlands that Loch Ness is home to a mysterious aquatic animal. Find out how this legend got its start and how various possible sightings have kept the legend alive.

Birth of a legend
When the Romans first came to northern Scotland in the first century A.D., they found the Highlands occupied by fierce, tattoo-covered tribes they called the Picts, or painted people. From the carved, standing stones still found in the region around Loch Ness, it is clear the Picts were fascinated by animals, and careful to render them with great fidelity. All the animals depicted on the Pictish stones are lifelike and easily recognizable—all but one. The exception is a strange beast with an elongated beak or muzzle, a head locket or spout, and flippers instead of feet. Described by some scholars as a swimming elephant, the Pictish beast is the earliest known evidence for an idea that has held sway in the Scottish Highlands for at least 1,500 years—that Loch Ness is home to a mysterious aquatic animal.

In Scottish folklore, large animals have been associated with many bodies of water, from small streams to the largest lakes, often labeled Loch-na-Beistie on old maps. These water-horses, or water-kelpies, are said to have magical powers and malevolent intentions. According to one version of the legend, the water-horse lures small children into the water by offering them rides on its back. Once the children are aboard, their hands become stuck to the beast and they are dragged to a watery death, their livers washing ashore the following day.
The earliest written reference linking such creatures to Loch Ness is in the biography of Saint Columba, the man credited with introducing Christianity to Scotland. In A.D. 565, according to this account, Columba was on his way to visit a Pictish king when he stopped along the shore of Loch Ness. Seeing a large beast about to attack a man who was swimming in the lake, Columba raised his hand, invoking the name of God and commanding the monster to "go back with all speed." The beast complied, and the swimmer was saved.

Mackay's and Campbell 1933
The MacKays owned a pub at Drumnadrochit, and on April 14th saw an "enormous animal" in the Loch. They told the man responsible for controlling salmon fishing in the Loch, a Alex Campbell. Campbell, because of his job spent a lot of time observing the Loch, and he saw Nessie a number of times.
Campbell put it at 30 feet long and described it as having "a long, tapering neck, about 6 feet long, and a smallish head with a serpentine look about it, and a huge hump behind..."
Hugh Gray photo 1933
The monster was first photographed by a Hugh Gray in 1933. Gray claims "I immediately got my camera ready and snapped the object which was then two to three feet above the surface of the water. I did not see any head, for what I took to be the front parts were under the water, but there was considerable movement from what seemed to be the tail."

This photo was the most famous of them all, and was reputedly taken by a surgeon who was a pillar of the establishment, Colonel Robert Wilson.
Christain Spurling later admitted that he had taken part in a hoax. He made the confession on his death bed in 1993 when he was aged 90. His story was that he had helped make a model out of a toy submarine and photographed the model. Spurling claimed that his stepbrother, Ian Wetherell, and Ian's father, Marmaduke ("Duke") Wetherell, had been hired by the Daily Mail to find Nessie. They made their "monster" out of a 14 inch toy submarine and plastic wood. The photo was taken so seriously that they dared not own up to the hoax at the time
You can take you pick as to whether this confession is proof that the photo is a fake or not.

Seen on land 1934
Arthur Grant, a veterinary student, saw the thing crossing the road as he rode along on his motorbike. His decryption matched that of a Plesiosaurus - small head, long neck, big body with flippers and a tail. The Plesiosaurus, a relative of the dinosaur, has been thought to be extinct for some 65 million years.
On moving film in 1960
An indistinct moving picture was taken by an an aeronautical engineer, Tim Dinsdale in 1960. The film may not have convinced the world, but Dinsdale gave up his job, and spent the next twenty years trying to prove they existed. He saw it twice more, but never got the photographic proof
Sonar Sweeps in 1970
The American Academy of Applied Science, funded a search by Dr Robert Rines, using sonar and automatic cameras. In 1972 one of their cameras photographed, in the murk, what appeared to be a flipper about 6 feet long on just four frames of film.
Various sonar contacts followed, but it was not until 1975 that they got a vague, very blurred image of what might possibly have been the face
In more recent years mini submarines have tried to find Nessie, without success In 1987, 20 cruisers methodically swept the Loch with sonar equipment bouncing sound waves from the surface down to the bottom and electronically recording any contacts. Many salmon were found, but no Nessie.
None of the evidence so far shows proof of Nessie's existence.
On the other hand the waters are big enough and deep enough to hide such a creature
And there again it is impossible for one to exist, there would have to be a breeding population of say at least 10 to 20
Certainly no bones or bodies have been found, so the myth lives on

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