Anyone arriving at this page will surely be expecting some sort of chronology of sightings of an unclassified animal. This may be a chronology, but perhaps not exactly what you expected.
Some books would have you believe that the first recorded sighting of Nessie occurred in the year 565 A. D. Unfortunately, the book containing this information was not written until about 100 years later, and the best translations of the original Latin suggest that the event occurred in the River Ness, not in the loch. Over the following centuries, unusual beasts were occasionally recorded all over the country, and so Loch Ness is not in any way special in this regard. Despite a full complement of sentries at Urquhart Castle from the mid-1200's onwards, there are no monster reports. Perhaps they were locals too afraid of superstitions to speak.
In that case, one could reasonably expect any influx of workers from outside the area to report anything strange they might see on the loch, even if local people did not, but soldiers of Oliver Cromwell's garrison, who had their own galley on Loch Ness in the 1650's, did not report any monsters. Eighty years later, hundreds of soldiers working on General Wade's military road between Foyers and Dores in the 1730's have not left any great legacy of monsters sightings.
When the Caledonian Canal opened in the 1820's, Loch Ness became a busy thoroughfare, with cargo boats, fishing boats and passenger vessels plying daily along its length. Some of the Victorian paddle steamers could accommodate over 1000 passengers, so surely monster sightings must have been common in those days? No. For some reason or other, this is not the case. Rupert Gould, in his book The Loch Ness Monster (1934) records only a handful in the century following the opening of the canal. He does however, record, a sighting in May 1923 by Mr William Miller, of the upturned-boat type, at a distance of over 1 mile; a sighting in August 1929 of a large hump by Mrs Cumming; a sighting in July 1930 of a rapidly moving object near Tor Point by Mr Ian Milne, and a sighting by Mr James Cameron of an upturned-boat type object 300 yards from the shore near Strone Point at 4 pm on February 7th 1932.
Some people claim the Nessie story began with Mr and Mrs Mackay's sighting, on 14th of April 1933, which was published in the "Inverness Courier" on May 2nd, in an article by Alex Campbell, water bailiff and none too astute observer. This is what he wrote.
" Strange spectacle on Loch Ness - what was it?""Loch Ness has for generations been credited with being the home of a fearsome looking monster, but, somehow or other, the "water kelpie", as this legendary creature is called, has always been regarded as a myth, if not a joke.
Now, however, comes at the news that the beast has been seen once more, for on Friday of last week a well-known businessman who lives in Inverness, and his wife (a University graduate), when motoring along the north shore of the loch, not far from Abriachan pier, were startled to see a tremendous upheaval on the loch, which previously had been as calm as the proverbial millpond. The lady was the first to notice the disturbance, which occurred fully three-quarters of a mile from the shore, and it was her sudden cries to stop that drew her husband's attention to the water.
There, the creature disported itself, rolling and plunging for fully a minute, its body resembling that of a whale , and the water cascading and churning like a simmering cauldron. Soon, however, it disappeared in a boiling mass of foam. Both onlookers confessed that there was something uncanny about the whole thing, for they realised that here was no ordinary denizen of the depths, because, apart from its enormous size, the beast, in taking the final plunge, sent out waves that were big enough to have been caused by passing steamer.The watchers waited for almost half an hour in the hope that the monster (if such it was) would come to the surface again; but they had seen the last of it.
Questioned as to the length of the beast, the lady stated that, judging by the state of the water in the affected area, it seemed to be many feet long.
It will be remembered that a few years ago, a party of Inverness anglers reported that, when crossing the loch in a rowing boat, they encountered an unknown creature, whose bulk, movements, and the amount of water displaced at once suggested that it was either a very large seal, a porpoise, or, indeed, the monster itself!
But the story, which duly appeared in the press, received scant attention, and less credence. In fact most of those people who were aired their views on the matter did so in a manner that bespoke feelings of the utmost scepticism.
It should be mentioned that, so far as is known, neither seals nor porpoises have ever been known to enter Loch Ness. Indeed, in the case of the latter, it would be utterly impossible for them to do so, and, as to the seals, it is the fact that though they have on rare occasions been seen in the River Ness, their presence in Loch Ness has never been definitely established."
Despite everything else, the phrase "Loch Ness monster" does not appear in this article - for this, we have to wait until 9th June 1933. As for seals "not being definitely proved in Loch Ness", we have references to them at Fort Augustus three decades earlier, and today it is not unusual to see them in Loch Ness. His successors in office slaughter them routinely. Had Campbell known that he might have recognised a typical seal mating display in the detail of the Mackay's account.
Did anything else happen in early 1933? Yes.
On 2nd March, two months earlier, at the Radio City Music Hall, New York, there opened a movie called King Kong. At that very time, the imagination of the entire western world was gripped by monster fever.