Not all creatures of myth are from times long ago. One such creature, the Loch Ness monster, is largely one that comes from a thoroughly modern era. Though Nessie may not have as much folklore behind her as other creatures, she's absolutely become an important part of modern mythology.
Quick Facts about the Loch Ness Monster
- One of the first sightings or stories of the monster comes from an ancient biography of St. Columba in 565 A.D.
- Modern interest in the creature was renewed in 1933 when journalist Alex Campbell reported a sighting made by Aldie Mackay.
- Many people believe it is a large plesiosaur similar to those that lived during the Jurassic period.
- Several sonar studies of the Loch have been done since the 1960's to try and search for the creature. On several excursions the echosounders returned hits of objects of unusual size.
- Loch Ness is located near the northern end of Scotland. It is connected to the North Sea by a small channel and several firths near Inverness. The Loch is about 23 miles long, fairly narrow and its deepest point is about 230 meters.
- The creature adds approximately $51 Million Dollars (£41 Million Pounds) to the Scottish tourism industry each year.
The Loch Ness monster's appearance depends on the person who saw it, but a few things have become fairly standardized in the telling of the creature's tales over the last few decades. The creature has a large body, possibly with one to three humps on its back. It has a large, thin neck that may resemble an eel, terminating in a large head. The creature does not have any limbs, but it may have flippers. Some more recent depictions of the monster tend to show it as something akin to an ancient plesiosaur, but older tales depict it as being closer to anything from a large salamander to a gigantic otter.
Powers and Abilities
Unlike most other similar monsters, the Loch Ness monster has never really been given any definitive powers or abilities. Considered to be more some type of actual animal than any sort of mythological beast, the Loch Ness monster's behaviors and abilities largely fall into the realm of the mundane.
Most stories of the monster depict it as aquatic, but many of the original stories concerning the creature mark it as at least semi-amphibious. Though it seems capable of living in deep water, the creature may sometimes come onto the roads surrounding Loch Ness.
Perhaps the most important power of the creature seems to be its ability to utterly evade any type of detection. Despite the use of every technology from basic photography to deep-sea imaging, no one has ever gotten a clear picture of Nessie. Whether it is simply elusive or magically equipped, this creature seems to have an uncanny knack for avoiding detection.
Myths and Stories
The Loch Ness monster is an interesting creature because it's generally one less associated with ancient myth and one that's associated more with the modern era. The stories that predate the modern era are less about the creature that would come to be fondly known as Nessie and more about the general mythologies surrounding water beats in Celtic folklore.
There's a relatively early tale about a creature in the River Ness associated with Saint Columba in the sixth century, but that tale isn't actually connected to the creature that would become known as the Loch Ness monster. Instead, the connections between this tale and the future myth of Nessie would be built much later. What does stand, though, is that residents of this region have considered the possibility of a water monster for centuries.
The first stories about the Loch Ness monster are fairly vague. In the late 19th Century, a sizable creature was sighted in Loch Ness - the first two eye-witnesses did not necessarily agree on the shape of the creature, but they considered it to be sizable. There was relatively little interest in a monster in the Loch, though, even after the initial 'discovery' of the creature.
The Loch Ness monster becomes a more focal point in local folklore beginning in the 1930s. The initial sighting of the monster by George Spicer actually saw the creature out of the water, though in the general shape that would become associated with the Loch Ness monster for decades to come. Spicer's tale would be corroborated by grainy pictures taken by Hugh Gray just a few months later, and then a sketch by Arthur Grant in 1934.
The stories surrounding the Loch Ness monster are less about the things that the creature has done and much more about the people who have searched for it. Countless numbers of expeditions have searched for the monster, with virtually every type of identification technology ever devised used in the search. The size and depth of Loch Ness make it nearly impossible to conclusively rule out the existence of the creature, though no hard evidence has ever really surfaced to prove that it does exist.
Connections to Other Myths
The Loch Ness monster is part of a much greater mythological tradition than one might think for such a relatively 'new' creature. Many sufficiently large bodies of water across the world have their own tales of large creatures, with river monsters also helping to round out the bestiary of water-borne threats. The very real dangers involved in crossing deep water and dealing with the wildlife therein have made these bodies of water significant sources of folkloric creatures for nearly as long as stories have been told among humans.
It's also worth noting that the Loch Ness monster may also share a few of its background details with the myths surrounding European dragons. Some experts in Nessie folklore claim that the possibility exists of a link between tales of Nessie, early tales of European dragons, and some types of large invertebrates. Regardless of whether or not there is a real creature at the source, it's safe to say that the Loch Ness monster is part of a much longer tradition than its fairly recent origins might suggest.