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LOCH NESS MONSTER EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNTS

This section does not purport to be a complete list, but is intended to provide a flavour of the types of eye-witness accounts reported over the decades.

Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie, eye-witnesses come from all walks of life.  Among these sightings you will find monks and doctors, scientists and military officers, policemen and farmers. Some have claimed to see Nessie from fishing boats, others on land, and stories abound.

There has always been a tradition of a big fish in Loch Ness, since the time of a gamekeeper's sighting in 1863.  Since then others claim to have seen a large fish in the loch and there has, of course, also been the stories of the mythological water kelpie or water horse, also sometimes known as "the beast"

However, in 1933 all of this changed when a Mrs Mackay saw what she took to be a whale or big fish in the narrows at Aldourie Castle.  She never claimed to have seen anything resembling a plesiosaur ... no long necks, no multiple humps and no flippers.  How, then, did this sighting start the famous Loch Ness Monster stories?

Simply, there was a water bailiff called Alex Campbell who was also an amateur journalist.  He lived in Fort Augustus at the south-western end of the loch.   Spicer's famous land sighting imortalised by cartoonist Kelvin Hunter.

Hearing about Mrs Mackay's sighting he decided to interview her and wrote an article for the Inverness Courier called Strange Spectacle On Loch Ness.  In this article he said that Mrs Mackay had perhaps seen the monster itself.  But what monster?  No-one had used that word to describe the big fish which lived in the loch.  Mrs Mackay used the term "whale-like" when describing what she saw to me.  This is, however, a clumsy term and if you look up "whale" for size in a thesaurus you find the word "monstrous".  It takes little imagination to see how Campbell changed that to "monster" for the sake of a more exciting story.

Of course, when Fleet Street in London, the press centre of Britain, heard about this "monster" in Loch Ness, they jumped at the opportunity to head north for a "jolly" and a few whiskies with the locals.  The monster the locals talked about, however, was not what they expected and they had to tease out the tales of the beast or kelpie in the loch.  

Rather too conveniently Mr and Mrs Spicer, immortalised in Kelvin Hunter's cartoon (above), then saw "the nearest thing to a prehistoric monster I have ever seen in my life" crossing in front of their car and the rest is history.

1. Single Hump

2. Multiple Hump - Sea Serpent Type

3. Head and Neck Sightings

4. Neck and Hump Sightings

5. More Than One Animal Accounts

6. Land Sightings

7. Miscellaneous


Inverness Courier - Loch Ness Monster Article

1. Sightings of a Single Hump in the Water

  1. Ian Milne and two others 1930 A hump twenty feet (6m) long travelling at up to 15 knots.
  2. Mrs Aldie Mackay 1933 In mid April Mr and Mrs Mackay, managers of the Drumnadrochit Hotel, were returning from a visit to Inverness. They were driving along the new north shore motor road and Mrs Mackay had a clear view of a hump like that of a whale in the narrows at Aldourie Castle SATPIC 6. She called to her husband to stop the car, but by the time he had stopped the "beast" had submerged. It had travelled in a sweeping curve causing a great disturbance. It was this sighting which water bailiff Alex Campbell wrote up for the Inverness Courier and which started the furore about monsters in Loch Ness. The article is shown to the right.  [I shall be placing a higher quality version of this on the site at a later date so that it can be read. Webmaster]
  3. Mr George MacBean and Others 1934 An object at first thought to be debris, but moving against the wind.
  4. Mr J McKillop 1947 A single hump seen at great range travelling at speed.
  5. Lady Maud Baillie 1950 A single hump, at first thought to be a rock, made off at speed.
  6. Col. P Grant 1951 A single hump about 6 feet (1.8m) long moving very fast.
  7. Dr Synge 1952 Observed from and followed by a car, a single hump about 440 yards (400m) from shore. It then stopped and submerged.
  8. Mr John Cameron 1967 A hump like an upturned boat just a few yards (metres) from him. It was about 12 feet (3.7m) long. It should be noted that this is the most common type of sighting at Loch Ness, but somewhat overshadowed by the less believable dinosaur-type sightings.
  9. Mrs D Fraser 1967 A very large single hump which came up, moved rapidly and then submerged leaving a large wake. Mrs Fraser described it as like the back of a giant tortoise.
  10. Dr & Mrs Rines plus Mr & Mrs Cary 1971 The four observed a single hump 20 feet ( 6m) long at a range of three quarters of a mile (1,200m). They examined it through a telescope from the Cary's cottage SATPIC 42 just above Urquhart Castle. Dr Rines described it as having a back like that of an elephant. Mrs Cary later said that it could have been anything. The late Carol Rines had also seen the monster previously when she first arrived at the loch. When the taxi driver pointed the monster out to her she told him not to stop as she wanted to get to the house and she would have many opportunities to see it once she had settled in. Obviously the sighting with the Cary's proves she was right. In 1972 Mrs Cary dowsed for the best position for Dr Rines to place his underwater cameras. Her skill is proven (TIC) by the almost immediate success of the flipper pictures.
  11. Tony Harmsworth 1986 While leaving his house he spotted something in the water about 400 metres or so away and moving diagonally across the loch against the direction of the wind. Through binoculars it was clearly an elongated shape he estimated at between four and six feet long (1.2 to 1.9m). Later comparisons with a boat in the same location showed that the object was closer to four than six feet long demonstrating that even people living overlooking the loch and seeing something from their own house can make mistakes over size of objects in water. For information, a seal is about two feet or 600mm long at the surface showing that four feet, 1,200mm, is quite a substantial object.

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2. Sightings of Multiple Humps in the Water

  1. Sir Murdoch MacDonald M.P. 1934 Two humps of equal length to the distance between them, the total being about fifteen feet (4.5m).
  2. Mr William Mackay 1937 With a group of schoolboys returning from a cricket game at Fort Augustus Abbey SATPIC 28. Two humps in the water about 3 feet (900mm) high. Mr Mackay had a similar sighting again during the second world war when he viewed the monster through a telescope. The humps were elephant grey.
  3. Mr Cowan Martin and Others 1939 Multiple humps like a giant eel.
  4. Inspector John Grant and Others 1957 Two humps moving in the loch.
  5. Mr P MacMillan 1957 Saw two humps moving at speed. When seen through binoculars he could see they were part of an animal. The visible parts were 30 feet (9.1m) long.
  6. Twenty-seven Passengers on a Bus 1958 A twenty-five foot (7.6m) long hump on the surface.
  7. Mr G Senior 1966 Two humps seen for about six minutes.
  8. Police Inspector Henry Henderson 1971 Two humps estimated to be about 30 to 40 feet (9 - 12m) long travelling at 15 knots.

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3. Sightings of a Head and Neck in the Water

  1. Rev Hobbes 1933 With others at the Half Way House Tea Room now known as Altsaigh Youth Hostel SATPIC 22.
  2. Br Richard Horan 1934 A graceful neck only thirty yards (27m) away and standing 3.5 feet (1.1m) out of the water. Br Richard, who was working by the boathouse, said it was looking at him. Three other people corroborated the sighting.
  3. Rena MacKenzie 1935 A long neck and small head seen for some five minutes until disturbed by a passing boat.
  4. Mr John MacLean 1938 From the Half Way House Tea Room, now the Altsaigh Youth Hostel. A sighting of a head and neck at a range of only 20 yards (18m). Mr MacLean claims that the creature was in the process of swallowing and did so in the manner of a cormorant. Shortly afterwards the entire length of the monster with two humps and a tail became visible. The whole animal then lay on the surface for several minutes. 
  5. Mr Harper-Smith and Son 1951 While in a boat they saw a neck about five feet (1.5m) long and one foot (0.3m) in diameter. It was at a range of half a mile and moved very rapidly.
  6. Father Gregory Brusey 1972 One of the most famousFather Gregory Brusey of Fort Augustus Abbey sightings of all time. Fr Gregory is one of the monks of Fort Augustus Abbey. He was walking in the monastery garden by the loch with the organist from Westminster Cathedral when they both saw a head and neck about 6 feet (1.8m) high. It moved through the water, turned on its side and submerged. See the section on Fort Augustus Abbey to see a picture of Fr Gregory with the rest of the monastic community taken in 1997. The picture to the right is from about the date of his sighting. Sadly Fr Gregory died at Ampleforth Abbey on 30th March 2001 in the morning.

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4. Sightings of a Neck and Hump/s in the Water

  1. Alex Campbell 1934 A neck six feet out of the water followed by a thirty foot hump which, with his experience as water bailiff on Loch Ness, he gauged as the length of two fifteen foot long rowing boats. He later withdrew this sighting saying that he may have seen a cormorant distorted by a mirage. A thirty foot long hump is a cormorant's back? Campbell's credibility is minimal. This was one of sixteen sightings made by him.
  2. Mr & Mrs MacMillan and Others 1936 A neck and two humps seen at a range of 500 yards (460m). Apparently over 50 people witnessed the sighting which lasted for fifteen minutes.
  3. Mr John MacLean 1938 From the Half Way House Tea Room, now the Altsaigh Youth Hostel. A sighting of a head and neck at a range of only 20 yards (18m). Mr MacLean claims that the creature was in the process of swallowing and did so in the manner of a cormorant. Shortly afterwards the entire length of the monster with two humps and a tail became visible. The whole animal then lay on the surface for several minutes.
  4. Mr Farrel 1943 Claims to have seen a creature 25 to 30 feet (7 - 9m) long at a range of 250 yards (230m). Apparently feeding. The neck was 4 to 5 feet (1.2 - 1.5m) long and its eyes appeared large, which was a remarkable observation at 250 yards even through 6x binoculars.
  5. Mr Raymond Bain 1957 He saw, and tried to keep up with in his car, a creature with a long swan-like neck and 30 foot (9m) long moving at an estimated 35mph (56kph).
  6. Mr Hamish MacKintosh 1959 Described as like a dinosaur with an 8 foot (2.4m) long neck. It was seen for about five minutes.
  7. Hugh Ayton 1963 Three large humps and a neck seen by Mr Ayton of Ballachladaich Farm SATPIC 39 and three others who ran to the loch-side, got into their boat, rowed out into the loch, started the outboard motor and then followed the monster for about a mile. The body was 30 to 40 feet (9 - 12m) long and the humps stood 4 feet (1.2m) out of the water and the neck six feet (1.82m) long. The length of this sighting can be imagined from the first point of seeing something, deciding to get the boat, reaching the boat, launching the boat, rowing the boat and starting the engine. If monsters behaved like this, why is there still a mystery? Hugh Ayton says that the one thing he will always remember was the large oval eye looking at him from the horse-like head.
  8. Mr & Mrs W Dewar 1971 A snake-like head and neck with a ten foot (3m) long hump moving rapidly.

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5. Sightings of Several "Creatures"

  1. Mr D Campbell 1957 Two humps about 440 yards (400m) away and 150 yards (137m) apart moving at speed and then submerging.
  2. Alex Campbell 1958 One large hump heading diagonally across the loch while the other lying quietly beside Fort Augustus Abbey SATPIC 28. One of sixteen sightings by Alex Campbell.

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6. Land Sightings

  1. Mr Jock Forbes 1919 A big beast, fully the width of the road, crossed the road in front of him, spooking the pony. Sighting not reported until after 1933. Whisky was popular in the early twentieth century, too.
  2. Mr A Cruickshank 1923 A animal with a huge humped body and pug-nosed head seen on the road. It was up to 25 feet (7.6m) long. Sighting not reported until after 1933. Spectacles were not available on the National Health Service in 1923.
  3. Mr & Mrs Spicer 1933 A huge animal, "the nearest thing to a prehistoric animal that I have ever seen" crossed the road in front of their car. This was the first long-neck sighting and may have inspired Alex Campbell's plesiosaur sightings. The Spicer sighting was almost certainly fraudulent, but may well have been the inspiration for the Nessie image we all love to believe in today. Suddenly, after this sighting, anyone who saw a single hump was barely newsworthy and exaggeration became the order of the day. Who's kidding who Mr Spicer?Grant being knocked off his motorcycle in cartoon form by Kelin Hunter
  4. Mr W A Grant 1934 A much reported sighting which Mr Grant had actually admitted as a joke to Mr Alex Menzies. He had apparently fallen off his motor bike and told his mother that the damage to the bike was caused by the monster making him crash. Will all authors please stop treating this sighting as if it were genuine.
  5. Mrs Margaret Munro 1934 A twenty-five minute sighting of a huge animal with a giraffe-like neck disporting at a range of 300 yards (275m). Such good fortune.
  6. Mr Torquil MacLeod 1960 A plesiosaur type animal seen on a beach near the Horseshoe Scree SATPIC 27 through binoculars. It was supposed to have been 40 to 60 feet (12 - 18m) long without the tail. Having no telephoto lens on his movie camera Mr MacLeod did not take any film because he wanted to save it in case the animal swam the mile across the loch towards him ... to join him for afternoon tea, no doubt. More likely a tadpole had found its way into his binoculars.

I must say, here, that I find it quite incredible that anyone can believe any of these ridiculous land sighting reports. Surely they do nothing but confuse the whole subject?


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Saint Columba statue at Fort Augustus Abbey

7. Miscellaneous Sightings

  1. Saint Columba - 565AD Saint Columba, while preaching Christianity to Pictish people in the area, the Saint is supposed to have seen a water beast heading to attack one of his followers who was swimming across for a boat on the other side of the Bonar Narrows SATPIC 5. Adamnan's account of the sighting, written down one hundred years later, claims that the Saint raised a cross and told the monster to go back with all speed and not to hurt the swimmer. A statue of Saint Columba is shown to the right. This statue can be seen on the bell tower of Fort Augustus Abbey overlooking the old monks' private garden. The statue on the clock tower is of Saint Benedict.
  2. Saint Columba - 565AD The Saint's second sighting of something in Loch Ness is not reported so often. This may be because the water kelpie took the form of a bridled horse offering weary travellers a ride. Once the traveller mounted the horse it reverted into the kelpie and plunged into the loch to devour its victim. When the Saint met the kelpie he gave it a severe lecture and it never again hurt the local people! This does not tell us much about any possible creatures in Loch Ness, but it does tell us a great deal about the credibility of the writings of Adamnan!
  3. Alex Campbell 1956 One of the creatures reputedly came up under his boat frightening him greatly and also scaring his dog. One of sixteen accounts by Alex Campbell.  It also made a "whooooooosh" sound.

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