The legend of the Loch Ness Monster is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and well-known in the world. Woven throughout popular culture across literature, cinema, art and television, the belief that such a creature could exist has captured the imagination of millions, and continues to draw inquisitive travellers from across the world to the breathtaking scenery of Scotland, whether touring the country or enjoying nearby accommodation in Inverness.
The first recorded mention of a creature comes from an account written in the 7th century, when Irish monk Saint Columba sent a follower to swim across the loch and, when confronted by a monster, turned him away before praising God.
Yet it wasn’t until 1933, when a sighting of a monster crossing the road to the loch was made by George Spicer and his wife was reported, that the monster gained incredible popularity. Sightings were recorded on a much more regular basis, aided by the building of a road alongside the loch that saw an increase in passing traffic.
Photographs helped to reinforce this, with the first taken by Hugh Gray in 1933. More famous was the ‘Surgeon’s photograph’ taken in 1934 supposedly by Robert Wilson, who did not want his name associated with the image. It appeared to show a head and neck that resembled the details given by those who claimed to have seen the creature, and was published in the Daily Mail.
The photo has since been explained as a hoax, carried out by Marmaduke Wetherell as a means of gaining revenge on the newspaper. Yet the fame of the image led to many people seeking to record still and moving images of the beast in the hope of proving the existence of the creature. Most are dismissed as either smaller animals or other naturally occurring events that cause shapes or shadows, but this hasn’t stopped the quest for many.
The charm of the mystery surrounding ‘Nessie’ will continue to endure for as long as it remains categorically unproven, something that may never happen. Yet as long as the question remains, people will flock to the shores of Scotland to enjoy her thrilling history, contemporary cultures and magnificent landscapes.