LOCH NESS TIMELINE
Posted May 5, 2015on:
A database of anything odd that has happened in the Loch Ness area over the past 200 years. This is by no means an exhaustive account as, to be honest, I think that would be nigh-on impossible. It’s also not limited just to Nessie, but anything strange around the Loch Ness area. I’ve limited it to the past 200 years as that’s quite enough, and I haven’t the energy to go all the way back to St Columba! Will add any more information when I can.
1862 – Jimmy Hossack saw a lake-monster in the Loch.
October 1872 – Mr Mackenzie of Dulnairn saw the monster coming across the Loch fro Aldarie At first he thought it was a vast log drifting. On reaching the middle of the Loch it assumed the shape of an upturned boat and went off at great speed, churning up the water.
1878 – A labourer washing his feet in the Loch was “surprised out of his life” when the Monster’s head suddenly appeared 200 yards from him.
1879 – Children picknicking near an old graveyard at Drumnadrochit heard a strange noise, and saw the Monster moving from land to the water. It was described as elephant grey, and had a small head on a long neck. It turned it’s head from side to side peering at the children as it waddled into the water.
1880 – Duncan McDonald was diving onto a sunken ship near the mouth of the Caledonian Canal near Fort Augustus. Soon after being lowered into the water he sent up a distress-signal to be pulled out immediately. Duncan’s face was as white as chalk, and trembling so violently that he couldn’t speak. When he recovered he said he’d seen a large unknown animal lying on a shelf of rock where the wreck had gone down. He described it as looking like “a very large odd-looking beastie, like a huge frog”.
1880 – Alexander McDonald, a mason, was working at Abriachan Pier early one morning when he saw the Monster playing on the Loch. Mr McDonald travelled daily on the steamer between the pier and Inverness, and claimed to see it many times, calling it “the salamander”. He described it as a furry animal with legs.
1880 – Roderick Matheson, owner of a steamer, said it was an enormous eel with a neck like a horse and a mane.
1880 – Mr E Bright was walking near Drumnadrochit with his cousin when he saw the Monster emerge from the woods and waddle to the water. He said the body was grey with a long neck, and the creature made a big splash when it hit the water. Several prolonged footprints were left near the Loch.
July 1885 – Multiple witnesses sighted the Monster in the Loch.
1889 – Mr J Craig and his brother were out fishing in a small boat near Uquhart Castle when suddenly the Monster rose up out of the water nearby and swam off towards Inverness. They described it as looking like a huge serpent.
1893 – Captain R J Cringle saw the Monster. Many years later he said he had suffered so much ridicule as a result that he didn’t want anything more to do with the subject.
November 1899 – Aleister Crowley, the self-styled “Great Beast” and “The Wickedest Man In The World” bought Boleskine House near Foyers. He gave himself a new title, “the Laird of Boleskine”, and planned to use the house to carry out an ancient Occult ritual. All sorts of legendary tales abound from Crowley’s tenure at Boleskine, including a servant going mad, and a local butcher cutting himself after Crowley scribbled part of an incantation on a shopping list. I get the impression the ritual wasn’t much of a success.
December 1903 – Three people were rowing over to Invermoriston when they saw what they thought was an upturned boat nearby. When they tried to catch up with it though it moved away too fast.
1912 – William MacGruer and his sister Margaret, accompanied by four other children, were hunting birds around Inchnacardoch Bay when they saw Nessie on land ahead of them. It had a long neck and a humped back. It’s colour was pale yellow. The children said they saw it emerge from some bushes and head for the Loch.
July 1914 – Mr and Mrs William Miller saw the Monster near Dores Bay.
April 1923 – Alfred Cruickshank was driving to meet a train at Speanbridge when he saw the Monster crossing the road at a bend. He said it resembled a giant hippopatamus. The creature barked like a dog as it headed into the Loch.
1932 – Miss K MacDonald saw what looked like a large crocodile on the River Ness, which had a very short neck and a pair of tusks.
April 1932 – Colonel and Mrs McFordyce were driving through the woods on the south side of the Loch when they saw what they described as “an enormous elephant” crossing the road in front of them.
Early 1933 – the main road was built alongside the Loch on the north side, dramatically escalating sightings of the monster.
14 March 1933 – Mr and Mrs John Mackay, tenants of the Drumnadrochit Hotel, were returning from Inverness. Driving along the old narrow road, they were near Aldourie Castle, when Mrs Mackay shouted at her husband to stop the car. She said she could see an enormous black body rolling up and down. Mr Mackay stopped the car, but could only see ripples on the water.
16 April 1933 (Easter Day) – King Kong had it’s UK premiere in London. Skeptics have suggested that this hugely popular, cult monster flick was responsible for awakening public interest in big creatures, which led to the Nessie phenomenon.
2 May 1933 – Wikipedia (wrongly) asserts that this was the date of the first modern sighting of the monster.
22 July 1933 – Mr and Mrs George Spicer saw “a most extraordinary form of animal” cross the road in front of their car. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for the Spicers, they described the animal as “an abomination” and “a loathsome sight”.
August 1933 – Arthur Grant was said to have nearly hit the creature whilst on his motorbike at 1:00 AM on a moonlit night, as he was heading towards Abriarchan. Mr Grant, a veterinary student, described the creature as being like a cross between a plesiosaur and a seal.
22 September 1933 – Three ladies, Janet Fraser, Mrs G Fraser, and a Miss Howden saw the creature at Altsigh, back in the days when there was a tea-room there. (It’s now a youth hostel). When a vicar admired Miss Fraser for her cool-headedness at the sighting, she replied that she had seen the creature 3 times before.
December 1933 – the Scottish Office in Edinburgh opened a file on the Loch Ness Monster, due to immense media interest.
December 1933 – the ‘Daily Mail‘ sponsored an expedition to the Loch employing a self-appointed big game hunter, Marmaduke Wetherell. Wetherell’s wild and unfounded claims were published in the paper on the 21st December, and were thought to have done much to reduce the Monster’s credibility.
25 December 1933 – Nessie puts in a Christmas Day sighting. John Cameron, A Mack and D McIntosh, all claimed to see a 10-ft long black hump, motionless in the water. Another object, about 6ft in front of it, was thought to be it’s head.
December 1933 – Lt Cdr Rupert Gould, a retired naval officer, publishes The Loch Ness Monster and Others, in which he denied the Monster could be a hoax, as too many people would have to be complicit in it. His own belief was that it was “a vastly enlarged, long-necked marine form of the common newt”.
1934 – presumably to cash in on the All Things Nessie craze engulfing Britain, a quota quickie film The Secret Of The Loch was released, directed by Milton Rosmer, about a bunch of journalists and scientists all trying to prove the existence of the Monster.
1934 – crocodile claw found close to Urquhart Castle. Thought to have been placed there by an anonymous prankster trying to lure the media to the Loch.
1934 – A group of schoolchildren claimed to have spotted a most “horrifying animal” in the bushy swamp in the Urquhart Bay area. Looking at pictures of dinosaurs back at school, they identified the pleisosaur as the closest to what they had seen.
21 April 1934 – the notorious “Surgeon’s Photograph”, taken by Lt-Col R K Wilson, which for years was accepted as “conclusive evidence” of the existence of the Monster, was published in the ‘Daily Mail’. A deathbed confession revealed it to have been a hoax, created by attaching a model of the monster’s head to a toy submarine.
Summer 1934 – Insurance broker Sir Edward Mountain organises a team of 20 men to do a 5-week stakeout on the loch to try and glimpse the Monster. They came away with a series of inconclusive photo’s, and a cine film, which when examined by the Natural History Museum, was shown to be that of a grey seal.
July 1934 – Ian Matheson, resident of Fort Augustus, claimed to see a large animal on the shore close to the Glendoe Sawmill at Glendoe Pier.
August 1934 – Count Bentinck claimed to have seen animal’s head with steam blowing out of it’s mouth from his vantage point at the Altsigh tea-rooms.
24 August 1934 – F C Adams claimed to have sighted the beastie in the Loch, and a photo was subsequently published in the ‘Daily Mail‘ the following day. The picture, taken from Urquhart Castle, appears to show a dark shape rising out of the water. The photo usually ruled as being so unclear it could be just about anything.
21 January 1935 – Two Benedictine fathers, lay brothers and three schoolboys claimed to have seen the monster through a telescope. It disappeared after several minutes.
28 October 1936 – Around 50 people claimed to have seen the monster, lasting about 13 minutes.
1938 – William Fraser, Chief Constable of Inverness-shire, expressed concerns in a letter about a hunting-party who had arrived to try and capture the Monster, dead or alive. He expressed himself “very doubtful” that he could protect the Monster from the hunters with their harpoon-gun.
30 August 1938 – The ‘Arrow‘, a steam-ship making it’s maiden voyage from Leith to Manchester, saw a large dark object in the water about 2 miles-or-so west of Urquhart Castle. The Captain, William Brodie, recorded in the log: “saw wake of a large animal to south-west while close inshore, two and half miles from Castle Urquart. In sight again for half a minute 4:50 PM. Seen by all crew on deck”.
15 July 1948 – A forestry worker and several workmates saw an animal on the Loch for about 15 minutes, near to the Altsigh Youth Hostel.
29 August 1948 – A bus-party from Strathpeffer saw the creature moving at high speed towards Urquhart Castle.
15 December 1953 – A building contractor and wood merchant sighted the animal through binoculars at Urquhart Bay.
22 July 1954 – Two women saw it at Borlum Bay.
December 1954 – A fishing boat, ‘Rival III’, claimed that a strange object had kept pace with them, which had been picked up by their sonar. The object was travelling at a depth of nearly 500ft.
1957 – a local resident, Dr Constance Whyte, publishes More Than A Legend, putting forward a case for the Monster’s existence, successfully encouraging fresh mass interest in the story.
March 1959 – Dr Denys Tucker of the Natural History Museum claimed to have seen the Monster, and urged the Museum to carry out a proper scientific investigation of the Loch. His claims would soon cost him his job.
November 1959 – A fishing vessel, the ‘Guiding Star‘, claimed to have picked up an unexplainable echo-sounding of a large object moving in the Loch.
23 April 1960 – Nessie-hunter Tim Dinsdale spotted a strange object through his binoculars at about 9:00 AM. He filmed it zigzagging through the water from where he stood, overlooking Foyers Bay. The RAF analysed the film in 1966, and declared that it was that of a living creature.
13 June 1960 – BBC current affairs programme ‘Panorama‘ did a special on Loch Ness, interviewing witnesses, and analysing Tim Dinsdale’s cine films.
1961 – Sir Peter Scott, Richard Fitter and Dr Constance Whyte formed the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Group. It was officially established as a charity in March 1962. It folded in 1972, through lack of funds.
1961 – Adam Faith starred in a comedy film ‘What A Whopper‘, about a young writer setting out to fake the Loch Ness Monster as a publicity stunt. It also starred Sid James and Terry Scott.
1962 – F W Holiday (also known as “Ted”) camped Loch-side, and made the remark that “after dark, I felt that Loch Ness was better left alone”. Two days later he saw a black hump in the water at daybreak. It disappeared when some workmen began hammering on the pier nearby. Ted’s holiday at the Loch with leave him with an obsession with the area, which would also end up with him claiming to see UFOs here, and to be followed by a weird Man In Black-type character.
October 1962 – a fortnight-long loch-side vigil, organised by Tory MP David James, made a number of sightings of a “long, dark shape, divided into humps and undulations”. This was submitted to an independent panel for analysis the following year, who concluded that “there is some unidentified animate object in Loch Ness”.
Autumn 1964 – Mrs Durand Hambro drowned when the pleasure-boat she was on collided with an unknown object near the Glendoe boathouse. A fire and an explosion ensued, and Mrs Hambro jumped overboard and was drowned. Her husband (a banker) said the jewellery she had been wearing was valuable, and made an insurance claim. The company employed a professional diver to try and recover the body (and jewellery). The diver went down to about 150 ft, and then came back up looking very pale. He refused to go down again because of the murkiness of the water making visibility impossible. It was also claimed that he refused to ever dive in Loch Ness again. Legend has it that the shock had caused his hair to turn white.
27 June 1968 – Sven Lundberg and family sighted the beast on the surface of the Loch. A black/green object, like an upturned boat, appeared and then submerged again without trace.
1969 – the ”Encyclopaedia Brittanica’ announced that Nessie was among the 10 leading subjects on which they received requests for information from around the world.
1969 – controversial Nessie-hunter Frank Searle took up residence Loch-side to carry out a full-time search for the Monster. He lived in a tatty caravan at Foyers, and called it ‘The Frank Searle Loch Ness Investigation’. He would take photographs of the Monster which were highly regarded for a time, before one of them was exposed as a hoax by the ‘Scottish Mail’ in 1976. They were also debunked by journalist Nicholas Witchell in his 1975 book ‘The Loch Ness Story’. Skirmishes with other Monster-hunters took place, which even resulted in one of their boats being torched by a Molotov cocktail. Searle was never charged with this offence. He finally left the area in the early 1980s.
April 1969 – A fishing trawler, the ‘Ha-Burn‘, using on-board echo-sounder detected a large object about 700 feet down.
1970s – Boleskine House is bought by Led Zeppelin guitarist, Jimmy Page. More strange stories emerge, including poltergeist activity, and a ghostly head rolling around the corridors of the house.
1970 – Nessie appears in the film ‘The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes’, as a submarine.
1970 – The US-based Academy of Applied Science arrived at the Loch to help the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau with a Nessie watch. Early attempts to find any trace of the Monster met with little success.
circa 1970 – Respected Nessie-hunter Tim Dinsdale, anchored near Boleskine House one night, claimed that “a series of ghosts, ghoulies and demons” all invaded his boat.
1972 – American Dr Robert Rines saw a large darkish hump covered with skin “like the back of an elephant” in the loch. He photographed what appeared to show a flipper of the monster, and it’s neck and head underwater.
8 August 1972 – At 1:45 AM, near Temple Pier, a strobe camera belonging to the Academy of Applied Science, sunk to a depth of 35 feet, picked up a strange object, very large which didn’t resemble any known species of fish.
2 June 1973 – Author F W Holiday and a retired vicar, the Rev Donald Omand, carried out an exorcism on the Loch. Also present was Wing Commander Basil Cary. Within 24 hours more sightings of the monster were made, and the team took these as proof that the Monster “is not of an evil kind”.
1975 – Nessie features in a ‘Dr Who’ story called ‘The Terror Of The Zygons’.
1975 – Photographic evidence produced images of what is described in Paul Harrison’s book, ‘The Encyclopedia Of The Loch Ness Monster’, as “a hideous gargoyle-type head”. Much controversy lingers around this photograph, and it has been ruled out as possibly just a weather-beaten log at the bottom of the log.
21 May 1977 – Anthony ‘Doc’ Shiels, a notorious self-publicist, took photographs of Nessie whilst camping near Urquhart Castle. The pictures have been denounced as a hoax by many people, and nicknamed ‘the Loch Ness Muppet’.
September 1978 – Pete Smithson was Loch-side at day-break to take some photographs. He was somewhat startled to see a man suddenly approaching him from the waters of the Loch, wearing military uniform! The uniform looked like that of a World War 2 RAF pilot. The strange image was carrying a parachute behind him. Smithson asked him if he was alright. The apparition staggered and pointed behind him to the Loch, before vanishing into thin air. Thought to be the ghost of the only man on board an RAF Vickers Wellington aircraft which suffered engine failure during a snowstorm over the Loch on New Year’s Eve 1940. Everyone else had managed to bail out, but this man’s parachute had failed to open.
June 1981 – Harry Mann was driving past the Loch on his way to Inverness, when a small entity, dressed entirely in green appeared in front of his car, about 80-90 feet ahead of him. The being had a wide grin, and seemed to be wearing two insect-like wings on his back. As Harry watched, understandably awed, the little feller bowed, and then soared off up into the skies. Harry didn’t tell anyone of his encounter until 2007, when a similar incident was reported here.
June 1982 – A Goodyear airship, the ‘Europa’ flew over the Loch, packed with sonar equipment, to try and pick up anything from the Loch’s dark depths. Several journeys over the water resulted in zilch.
October 1987 – Operation Deepscan, led by Adrian Shine, in which 19 cruisers lined up in a row swept the Loch with echo-sounding devices. Nothing conclusive was determined.
5-7 October 1990 – Bookmakers William Hill offered £250,000 to anyone offering first-class evidence of Nessie’s existence. Teams from all over the world descended en-masse for the Monster Hunt Weekend, including Screaming Lord Sutch of the Monster Raving Loony Party. Although joke-y in nature, the weekend did capture an unexplained blip on a sonar screen.
1 August 1992 – The BBC’s series ‘Video Diaries‘ carried a piece by Steve Feltham about his decision to sell his home and buy a mobile home on Dores beach, to become a full-time Nessie-hunter. To the best of my knowledge Mr Feltham is still there. He carves and sells little figurines of the Monster, which you can buy directly from him.
1996 – Ted Danson stars in a rather dreary film about the Monster called simply ‘Loch Ness’.
1 March 1996 – anonymous report of the sighting of a cigar-shaped object in the water at the entrance to the Caledonian Canal, near Fort Augustus.
13 June 1996 – 16 people, staff and guests of the Craigdarroch House Hotel witnessed an “unusual frothy disturbance” close to Foyers early one evening.
7 August 1996 – staff at the Clansman Hotel reported seeing several black humps in the middle of the Loch near Abriachan.
25 August 1996 – Paul Alexander, from Inverness, saw the Monster whilst sitting in a boat moored beneath Urquhart Castle at 3:45 PM. He saw much rippling of the water, and then a large submerged object broke the surface.
17 March 1997 – anonymous local man saw two humps travelling through the water near Abriachan.
21 March 1997 – a South African couple, on holiday at Aldourie, told staff at Drumnadrochit Hotel, that they had seen two humps sticking out of the water opposite Aldourie Castle.
15 April 1997 – a visitor from Skye told staff at the Drumnadrochit Hotel that she had “seen something strange in the water near Foyers”.
2 May 2000 – Locals reported a spate of mutilations and killings of sheep, accredited to a puma. One farmer, Davie MacLean, reported that he had found a dead ewe and two lambs on his land. Their heads had been torn off, and the few bones remaining appeared to have been snapped by something with very powerful jaws.
4 September 2000 – anonymous man saw two humps in the water at Cherry Island, near Fort Augustus.
September 2001 – a puma-like animal was sighted by a civil engineer called David Straube on a stretch of road near Kinnoir Woods.
5 March 2004 – Barbara Abbott claimed to have seen the Monster 5 times at different point around the Loch. Although a photographer, she failed to capture any images of the beastie. On one occasion she said she saw it catch a live seal in it’s mouth before eating it.
26 May 2007 – Gordon Holmes, a lab technician, filmed a large, black-coloured creature, 45 feet in length, moving at a fast pace in the Loch. Holmes also electrified everyone with his news that he believed in fairies, which earned him much unwelcome public hilarity, but did encourage Harry Mann to come forward with his own peculiar sighting from 1981.
August 2008 – Loch Ness becomes the latest area to fall victim to the mysterious Taos Hum, a strange inexplicable noise which has plagued many locations throughout the world.
June 2011 – A couple running the cafe in Foyers claimed to see Nessie from the decking in front of their shop.
May 2011 – Holidaymaker William Jobie sighted the monster on two separate occasions from the Fort Augustus quayside, and also photographed it.
20/21 August 2011 – BBC News reported that the emergency services had done a nocturnal search of the area after members of the public reported seeing a blue balloon-like object falling from the sky and into the Loch near Dores.
2 November 2011 – George Edwards, who has been operating a tourist boat on the Loch for 26 years, claimed to have taken ‘the most convincing Nessie photo ever’. Steve Feltham said the hump in the photograph was in fact made out of fibreglass, and had been used previously in a National Geographic programme which Mr Edwards had participated in.
2013 – the Loch experienced a 2.4 magnitude earthquake. Some have speculated that this might account for Nessie’s complete no-show this year, the first time this has happened since 1925. Ironically, 2013 was also the 80th anniversary of the first modern sightings of the Monster.
19 April 2014 – Apple Maps had a satellite image purporting to show a large creature just below the surface waters of the Loch.
April 2015 – the Loch Ness Tourist Board campaigned to have Nessie replace the unicorn as Scotland’s national animal.
June 2015 – A tourist on holiday photographed “two mysterious disc-shaped objects” flying over the Loch. The couple were staying near Urquhart Castle at the time the shot was taken. The holidaymaker said he was normally a confirmed skeptic, but he was baffled by what the picture showed.
November 2015 – in a book soon to be released Gareth Williams claimed that the Monster was entirely a publicity stunt, thought up in a bar in Trafalgar Square, to help boost tourism during the Depression. And that there were scarcely any sightings of it prior to 1933.
November 2015 – it was suggested that Inverness Airport should be re-named Loch Ness Airport, in order to boost tourism to the area.
December 2015 – an Inverness newspaper reported that there had been a record number of Nessie sightings in 2015, more than any in the previous decade.
December 2015 – it was reported that, just before Christmas, Aleister Crowley’s old house, Boleskine, had been destroyed by fire.
January 2016 – Keith Stewart, skipper of a tourist vessel, using state-of-the-art sonar, detected a new depth in the Loch of 889 feet. It has been named as Keith’s Abyss. The trench is situated halfway between the Clansman Hotel and Drumnadrochit.
August 2016 – Council worker Ian Campbell (56) was cycling past Loch Ness with his son and a family friend when he sighted (and photographed) two strange shapes in the water. This has led to speculation that Nessie has a mate.
September 2016 – Ian Bremner (58) was in the area to take pictures of red deer when he snapped what has rapidly become regarded as one of the most convincing Nessie pictures ever, between the villages of Dores and Inverfarigaig, showing the classic humped eel design most of us are familiar with. It’s either Nessie, or 3 seals having a swim together, as some have described it. A rather silly and patronising article in the Huffington Post claimed that people were “freaking out” over it. No, just you dear. Most of us treat it as a bit of fun.
December 2016 – it was announced in the Scotsman that Nessie enjoyed a bumper year for sightings in 2016, the best since 2000.