A Supernatural Monster?
565AD: The Saint stood on the banks of the Loch, ready to encounter the water monster that lurked below. Earlier that day a local man had been bitten by the monster while swimming and the Picts wanted revenge.
Despite the danger St Columba ordered one of his followers to swim across the loch and bring back a boat that was moored on the other side. Robbed of its earlier feast, the monster surfaced and darted at the follower with a roar, its jaws open. Everyone on the bank was stupefied with terror; everyone, except Columba, that is. A firm believer in the authority of the crucified Christ, he raised his hand, making the sign of the cross. Invoking the name of God, he commanded the beast, saying, “You will go no further, and won’t touch the man; go back at once.”
At the voice of the saint, the monster fled as if terrified, “more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes,” says Adamnan.
And so another tale of the monster at Loch Ness was added to the history books, although this one would be credited as being proof that the monster had been around for over a thousand years.
Many of the lochs and locations in Scotland have large mythical animals associated with them. 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.
However folklore says it’s not the Kelpies that haunt Loch Ness, it is in fact the “Each Uisge” a beast that haunts the sea and loch. The Kelpie only haunted the freshwater streams and rivers. The each uisge takes the appearance of a beautiful horse and beckons for a traveller to mount. If he does, he will be taken on a wild ride ending up underwater, where he will drown and be devoured by the each uisge.
It was probably one of these beasts that Columba supposedly battled, an allegory for the new religion beating the old..
I am not suggesting however for one moment that a man-eating, shape shifting horse beast is still residing in Loch Ness, however I believe something else maybe there with an equally “far-out” explanation.
First I begin with a theory that had interested me since the beginning of my days as a ghost hunter.
Tom Lethbridge was an academic archaeologist and ‘Keeper of Anglo-Saxon Antiquities’ at the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. He was also a very successful dowser. Most people could accept the eccentricity of archaeological dowsing: far fewer could accept the implications of him being frequently right!
Lethbridge took early retirement, moved to Devon and spent twenty six years, until his death in 1971, studying various aspects of the paranormal and becoming a prolific writer on parapsychology. He came to some interesting conclusions about the implications of his discoveries for the nature of reality. Colin Wilson wrote in his foreword to Lethbridge’s last book that he was “… one of the most remarkable and original minds in parapsychology.”
The theory that Lethbridge promotes in “Ghost and Ghoul” (Lethbridge 1961) and “Ghost and Diving Rod” (Lethbridge 1963) is that nature generates fields of static electricity in certain places, especially near water. These fields are capable of recording human feelings and thoughts. This theory is very much part of the “Stone Tape Theory” – that human emotions are recorded in the fabric of buildings only to replay many years later (as a ghost).
Harold Burr of Yale University revealed in the 1930s that if someone goes into a room where a murder has taken place and experiences a distinctively unpleasant feeling, all what is happening is that the emotions related to the murder are being transferred to the visitor’s electrical field. If we can feel “energy” or the emotions with it, then our feelings will be recorded on the field as well.
If we apply this to Loch Ness, we could actually have an answer for some, but not all sightings of Loch Ness.
Back to Loch Ness
A letter to a newspaper in 1933 started a spate of references to ‘leviathans in the loch’ and a host of sightings of the fabled monster. This was encouraged by the new road – now the A82 – that was being blasted along the north side of Loch Ness and afforded an unimpaired view of the whole of the loch. It was also in 1933, a time of depression that Mr. and Mrs. Mackay, owners of the Drumnadrochit Hotel were travelling along the new road. According to their account they saw in the centre of the loch “an enormous animal rolling and plunging.” Cynics may say that being the owners of the Drumnadrochit Hotel, this couple may well have wanted to see a monster but apparently they did not tell this story widely, although they did tell it to a young water bailiff in Fort Augustus who happened to be a correspondent for the ‘Inverness Courier’ newspaper.
Throughout 1933 there was a lot of media frenzy from around the world and the Daily Mail sent Marmaduke Wetherall, a big game hunter and film director to find Nessie.
I believe this was a deciding factor in the Nessie story. After hiring a boat he set out from Dores pier to scour the shoreline with powerful binoculars for signs of the monster.
After just three days footprints where found in the shore not far from the village of Dores. Wetherall likened the casts to the Hippopotamus footprints he had seen in Africa. Plaster casts were made of them and sent to be studied by zoologists at the National History Museum in London, only to be found to belong to a stuffed Hippopotamus foot probably an umbrella stand. And that seems to be that.
Someone played a prank in front of the whole world, but in 1994 new evidence had reportedly come to light, that it was Wetherall who had played the hoax and the stuffed hippo foot belonged to him. So after that footprint story became a joke. He decided to seek revenge by having a monster model made, when completed, photographs were taken at the Loch and given to R.K.Wilson to have developed, these photos are without doubt the best known Nessie photos in the world, and are still known as the “Surgeon’s Photograph”.
The Surgeon’s photo put the major lasting theory on the map – that the Loch Ness Monster was a serpentine-headed Dinosaur possibly a plesiosaur. Since then witnesses who don’t live at Loch Ness have often reported seeing a serpentine headed monster in the water. (When checking through Nessie sightings we found that “locals” reported an “upside down boat like creature” rather than a three humped serpentine creature.)
Theory in place
I am putting forward that some of the eyewitness’s sightings (not footage or photographs) could possibly be caused by the “psyche-field” theory.
In 1933, due to the Surgeon’s photograph, an archetypal image was created that would be automatically imprinted on minds of visitors to the loch. They would be half expecting a serpentine head to rear up from the loch if they were going to see something or anything.
Many people would hold vigils at the loch side with the hope of seeing the monster and would sit there for hours, probably in the middle of “psyche-fields”. Their thoughts and feelings were being recorded, with possibly what they imagined Nessie to look like. So we have a Nessie watcher’s thoughts recorded on the loch side, lets say a month, a year or even a decade later (we have no idea how long these recordings can last) another visitor decides to stop at the same location.
The conditions are right for that visitor to “link in” with the “psyche-fields” maybe they are exhausted from a long drive, the mind is not totally focused and then bang!
From the shore he sees a small wake of water and then bubbles, a large snake-like head rears from the water. The sighting lasts for just over 10 seconds and then it’s gone. Rather than the visitor witnessing an eel or sturgeon, the witness has had a “paranormal event”, for a moment he was in contact with the “psyche-fields”.
This may all sound very preposterous but is it really? Nearly everything on earth has an electric field, our thoughts are easily recorded on tape and CD in audio format, is it just one more step to record our thoughts?
I very briefly checked some of the sightings and found some correlations.
Mrs Finlay from Inverness, 1952, a resident of Inverness, and her small son were “Nessie-watching” on the north-east shore of the Loch at Tor Point, when the monster appeared quite literally a few yards away in the water.
“We had an excellent view as it was so close to the shore. Its skin was dark in colour and looked very tough. The neck was long and held erect. The head was about the same width as the neck”
And at the same location we have nearly fifty years later on 15th May 2000, a local man saw “a dark head and long neck just off Tor Point at the north end of the loch.” Coincidence? I found at least another twelve sightings of the same description in the same locations. I believe with further research I will find even more correlations between the sightings and if they have more natural explanations before I move further on my theory.
This article is purely conjecture, but I hope that it may have raised some important questions about some of the sightings seen on Loch Ness and the paranormal in general. Can we unknowingly record our feelings and thoughts in our surroundings? How do we get a play back? And is the “psyche-field” theory really plausible?
Update from 2013
I have included this article from 1999 so that readers can see my progression of my “Haunted Field theory”. I think I was right in offering the “psyche-field” as possible theory, however I would like to add that I believe that the majority of sightings at Loch Ness are driven by expectation and misidentification above all. I also do believe that we somehow leave traces of memory – not necessarily in the “psyche-field” but within the local consciousness, and then accessed by the witness. The Loch Ness Monster is a highly contentious area of investigation, and personally feel while it offers something different when theorising about paranormal/borderland experiences, the likelihood is that the origins of this mystery started with a hoax.