Sunday, 8 February 2015

A Loch Ness Monster Sighting from 1909

You never know where things can end up. One things leads to another and an obscure item comes to light after decades.

I was doing some research for an article defending Alex Campbell. That is for another day, but in the course of research, I read an article by Alex Campbell from 1962, which tackled the leading sceptic of the day, Maurice Burton.

The article was published in the May 1962 edition of the Scots Magazine and was Campbell's reply to various objections Burton had brought against the idea of a monster in Loch Ness, such as his favoured vegetable mat theory. That article is interesting enough in its own right, but further research turned up something else.

One aspect of Loch Ness Monster research is to look for follow up. So, when an article such as this is published, I always look at subsequent publications to see if any feedback came out of it. The Scots Magazine has a section for readers' letters, so I looked out a few months to see if anything was published. As it turned out, the August issue carried a letter from a Mr. W. Fletcher Stiell who lived in Lincoln. I reproduce that letter below.

I was most interested in the article, "No, Dr Burton!" by Mr A. M. Campbell in your May issue. I can hardly think that Mr Campbell is the Loch Ness water bailiff whom I met in 1909. The bailiff I knew lived in a lochside cottage on the south side of the loch about midway between Inverfarigaig and Dores. He caught me in my student days cross-line fishing with "an otter" on a beautiful  moonlight night. All he did in a gentlemanly tone was to explain the iniquity of my conduct, to confiscate four big peacock flies, which I had dressed myself, and two nice sea-trout. We parted the best of friends.

I fished the loch daily, except Sundays. for two months every summer for twelve years - twenty-four months in all. During this time I only saw the monster once, and that was in August 1909. This was twenty-four years before Mr Campbell first "wrote up" the creature, and I was ignorant of its existence.

Unfortunately I was alone in the boat and had no camera, but for about three minutes I was parallel and only about twenty-five yards from the animal. It was swimming at about ten miles an hour against about a ten-knot wind. This was, of course, faster than I could row, and I was therefore outpaced and I lost sight. However, I cannot picture any weed-mat moving against a breeze at all.

I knew all the gillies at Drumnadrochit personally at that time. They are now all dead, but when I spoke of my experience they failed to comment in any way, so I have since done likewise. I do know that Sandy Ross, the late piermaster at Temple Pier, saw a similar beast on several occasions.

If the creature is a plesiosaurus, and its appearance was not unlike the pictures I have seen, then there must be some means of reproduction and at least two monsters. Not even a prehistoric beast could live for many centuries, but it could be reproduced unknown under the favourable conditions of Loch Ness.

As an aside, the bailiff at that time was not Alex Campbell, but John Grant. I would point out that the terms "Nessie" and "Loch Ness Monster" were completely unknown back in 1909. In fact, it was another 24 years before such phrases began to feature alongside reports of a strange creature inhabiting this northern lake.

As I have stated before, it is one of the pillars of modern scepticism that the Loch Ness Monster was a media created and media sustained phenomenon beginning in 1933. Before that year, there was nothing but an echoing void. This man's account suggests that theory can be thrown on the garbage heap.

Not that this account is unique. Only last month, we published the account of folklorist and ethnologist, Calum MacLean, who recorded the account of William MacKenzie and his Victorian Loch Ness Monster. Anyone who does not think people were seeing strange things in Loch Ness before 1933 are simply in denial.


SPARE MOMENTS IN AN EASY CHAIR

Keen to find out more about Fletcher Stiell's experience, I searched online. Having an uncommon name made this somewhat easier and I soon found out that he had written a book entitled "Spare Moments in an Easy Chair" published ten years previously in 1952. 

Further searching showed there was only one copy of this book available for sale. It seems his book is rarer than the Loch Ness Monster! Fortunately, the prestigious National Library of Scotland had a copy and I made the short trip to examine it. It turned out Mr. Stiell was a qualified doctor, Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and Member of the Royal College of Surgeons. In that regard, he recounts his tales of being a surgeon to World War One soldiers.

It is a small book in which Stiell reminisces on his times, observations and hobbies. To that end, we read him holding forth on a varied range of subjects such as medicine, angling, football, cars, philately, fish, hillwalking, cats, dogs ... and the Loch Ness Monster. A small three page chapter was devoted to Fletcher's experience, which is reproduced below.

 THE LOCH NESS MONSTER

THIS poor beast has for long been a subject of much controversy and scepticism, which has been sustained and rekindled by considerable journalism, much of which has been of a wild and flamboyant character. I have frequently felt inclined to give my own observations on this animal, but have each time avoided the temptation, as I realized that the subject had already become the butt of ridicule. To appreciate fully the presence of this animal in the loch, it is essential to possess some knowledge of the geography and topography of Loch Ness. It is a beautiful loch, in my opinion the most noble expanse of fresh water in Great Britain. It has not, of course, the delicate refinements and variety of such island-studded gems as Loch Morar or Loch Maree, but for sheer size and nobility it is unrivalled. It is twenty-six miles long with an average breadth of well over a mile. It is connected to the sea at a point where the seven-mile long River Ness empties into the Moray Firth. It is this river that furnishes the true explanation of the existence of the Loch Ness monster. 

I am not quite certain of the actual year, but I believe it was during the Summer of 1915, that I first saw a Loch Ness monster. In spite of the fact that, previous to this, I had already spent many happy hours fishing on the loch, I had never witnessed anything abnormal. In this particular Summer there were three continuous days and nights of phenomenal rain, as a result of which the loch rose as least eight feet and of course the River Ness likewise. Immediately following the cessation of the  downpour, I was on the loch in my small rowing-boat, fishing and observing the aftermath of the flood. I saw dead sheep, cows, fowls, etc., which had been brought down the hill streams, and I noticed what I at first thought was a horse in the water, and probably in difficulties.

When I had approached to within about twenty yards of the animal, I observed that it was in no difficulty at all, and that it was swimming easily against a head-wind with its head well clear of the water. It was dark in colour and roughly about fifteen feet in length. Immediately I came to the conclusion that it was what is known as a pilot whale or blackfish, which by accident had become separated from its herd and had found its way up the flooded river into the loch. As soon as the Loch returned to anything approaching normal level the animal would be unable to return to the river, as there is an artificial shallow weir at the junction of loch and river. Moreover, it would appear that it would have difficulty in finding again the one river of exit, when once it had entered an expanse of water the size of Loch Ness.

The pilot whale is quite common in the Northern Atlantic. They are frequently hunted in the Faroe, Shetland and Orkney Islands and I have seen them as far south as Loch Fyne on the west coast of Argyll. It is a timid and harmless creature to man, but of course is naturally destructive to fish-life on which it feeds. It has always been admitted that the Monster has been afraid, and difficult of approach. I much regret that I am unable to recall at what date the daily press began to journalise the creature, but I seem to think that it was quite ten years after my own experience. It is also difficult to estimate the longevity of a whale, but it is known that large animals, e.g. elephants, do enjoy a long span of life and therefore, I think, it is quite probable that this could explain the joyful findings of the journalists in 1925 or thereabouts. 

I am, however, quite satisfied that I have myself seen a large animal, probably a Pilot Whale, in Loch Ness, following a phenomenal flood probably in the year 1915. I saw it on one occasion only, but I have not had the pleasure of seeing much of Loch Ness since 1915. I am satisfied myself that what I saw was not a prehistoric monster and I am strongly inclined to think that the much discussed monster was probably the pilot whale I had seen ten years previously or, at the most, a similar whale, which had entered the loch under similar conditions.


COMPARISONS

It is instructive now to compare the two accounts, separated by about nine years. The book was published in 1952, but given his preface was written in 1951, I think his Loch Ness Monster chapter was also typed out in 1951. Back in those days, talk about the monster was pretty muted. The war was over, but austerity and rationing were still in force and the nation was concentrating on rebuilding the economy and infrastructure.

This is demonstrated by Mr. Stiell's better grasp of Nessie information in his 1962 letter compared to his 1951 book. By then, at least three books had been published on the subject for him to consult. The date of the sighting is also the subject of some uncertainty. The 1962 letter confidently says August 1909 while the 1951 book expresses uncertainty about the summer of 1915. I would tend to the 1909 date as Mr. Stiell appears to have put much more thought into figuring out when this happened.

The author had some skill in interpreting the moods of Loch Ness as he says he fished the loch daily for two months a year for twelve years except Sundays. That adds up to over 600 days on the surface of the loch. I am sure that gave him a considerable degree of experience in interpreting what he was seeing on the surface of the loch.

But that the author expresses uncertainty about the date over forty years on is probably no surprise. The matter of eyewitness recall is matter of debate. What is the level of detail that can be relied upon? Gross features such as size and shape give way to smaller items such as skin colour and texture which in turn focus in on minutiae such as eye colour and mouth shape.

There is no hard and fast rule here, especially when memory recall of significant events "burn" into the memory more readily than mundane, everyday events. I will leave the readers to form their own opinion. Having said that, his description turns out to be lacking in the finer details. Extracting the actual descriptions from the two texts:

I noticed what I at first thought was a horse in the water, and probably in difficulties. When I had approached to within about twenty yards of the animal, I observed that it was in no difficulty at all, and that it was swimming easily against a head-wind with its head well clear of the water. It was dark in colour and roughly about fifteen feet in length. Immediately I came to the conclusion that it was what is known as a pilot whale ...

And from the later letter:

Unfortunately I was alone in the boat and had no camera, but for about three minutes I was parallel and only about twenty-five yards from the animal. It was swimming at about ten miles an hour against about a ten-knot wind. This was, of course, faster than I could row, and I was therefore outpaced and I lost sight. However, I cannot picture any weed-mat moving against a breeze at all. ... If the creature is a plesiosaurus, and its appearance was not unlike the pictures I have seen ... 

In terms of accuracy, there is not much between them, mainly because there is not much said. One account says the creature was about 20 yards away, while the other says 25 yards. This is actually very close for a monster encounter, ranking with the closest of the post-1933 era.

Both accounts have the creature swimming against a head wind, which one states as being ten knots, while it swam "easily" at ten miles per hour. It is also is described as looking horse like in appearance with the head well out of the water. At fifteen feet in length and dark, we doubt this length refers to only the head, and rather the back of the creature must have also been visible.

CREATURES

The creature swam out of sight as it sped past our witness and he was left wondering what he had witnessed on the surface of Loch Ness. His impression at the time was that of a pilot whale which persisted into the 1950s. However, once monster fever began to rise after the 1960 Dinsdale film, we read he was now more inclined to consider that the creature was "not unlike" the plesiosaur theory being touted around.

Considering he stated "its head was well clear of the water" yet he managed to see up to fifteen feet of back, one wonder how his proposed pilot whale managed to achieve this contortion (picture below). It is also not clear how this animal could give the initial impression of being a horse in water. Perhaps, Mr. Stiell reconsidered these issues and finally rejected the whale explanation.



This brings us back to the problem of whether a whale could get into Loch Ness. Even the most hardened sceptic would have a hard time accepting that. This is especially reinforced by the fact that no one else seems to have reported the presence of a whale in Loch Ness. The frequent surfacings of this air breather would have easily made the local and even national news.

This was certainly true of the alleged school of porpoises seen in Loch Ness in 1914. However, correspondence of the time was in disagreement about their identity and was incredulous that up to nine porpoise could get into Loch Ness. I agree with that assessment, but do not agree with the view of one modern sceptic that they merely saw bow waves since there was none of that so-called "Nessie expectation" to fool an observer in 1914. For me, this was a sighting of one or more Nessies.

PARADIGMS

But this brought me to thinking how pre-Nessie witnesses would describe strange creatures in Loch Ness. We have this man plumping for a pilot whale, another goes for a number of porpoise. We can also add to this the story of a "huge fish" seen in Loch Ness at the time of an article in 1868. It seems that it wasn't kelpies, sea serpents or even inanimate objects that were candidates for possible explanations, but rather other animals in the region of comparable size.

To that end, a search of the archives produced this letter from the Inverness Advertiser dated 3rd January 1854. The letter of two from an M. Bankes does not refer to Loch Ness but two smaller lochs further north and what our writer calls "the existence of large whales in our Highland lochs". Now whether one accepts the fact of whales in small lochs is secondary here. The main point here is that whatever was being seen was likened to a whale.




CONCLUSION

Whatever Mr. Stiell saw in 1909 (my preferred date), I doubt it was a pilot whale. Unlike our day and age, where the idea of a persistent and unknown monster has joined the ranks of candidates, here the idea of a transient but known sea creature was preferred. The problems with that have been explored above, but future research into this period of time may yield results if one looks for stories of out of place animals in Loch Ness rather than the more enigmatic kelpies and sea serpents.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com



















126 comments:

  1. Oops, sorry. I didn't realise comments were turned off by default. Fixed.

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  2. I think it's possible a small whale like a pilot could enter the loch when the Ness is in spate. However, i think it'd be quickly spotted and identified.

    Reading these snippets, it's such a shame some of these local posts no longer exist; the pier master at Temple Pier, water bailiffs, etc. They were such a big part of these communities, and the individuals in the posts usually had a wealth of local knowledge.

    The extract from the Advertiser is interesting - i wonder if the reference is to what's known locally these days as Loch na Sealga, round the back of Dundonnel stretching out towards Poolewe on the west coast? A big loch, and very remote, though i believe land locked apart from a fairly narrow river.

    I look forward to the Alex Campbell article.

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    1. This is a bit curious. Mr. Bankes is stated as the proprietor of the estate involved in the famous incident at Loch Na Beiste near Udrigil. Yet he mentions Loch Bhadlunchraich in the letter above. Another nearby loch or the same body of water?

      The other is Loch Na Sealga which appears to be 10 miles further south east. I was not aware of any stories around that loch?

      The creature word is Muc Shealabaig?

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    2. Muc Sheilche is supposed to inhabit Loch Maree. Interesting that it should be thought of as a pig rather than a water-horse.
      There's a Loch a' Bhaid Iuachraich at the base of the Rubha Mor / Udrigle peninsula. 100 metres up, so not really whale-friendly.

      *AnonStg*

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    3. Thanks, AnonStg, knew I could rely on you for such info.

      Bankes wrote a follow up letter in which he speculated the whales may have been lifted and dropped into loch as newborns by huge birds. I think he was on a loser there. :)

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    4. The more of these various loch monsters we hear about, the more it looks like Nessie is just folklore.

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    5. You're saying Stiell saw a folklore?

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    6. I don't think Stiell saw a "folklore", I think he saw a real animal in the loch. He was an experienced angler and I don't think his story should be dismissed out of hand.

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    7. I've seen a report recently on the internet of a couple who saw a clear, large horse head and neck swimming in the loch. It then dived under and revealed a whale flute tail which then submerged in spectacular fashion.

      I've also read of a very clear pole-like neck with no discernible head, witnessed by the head monk at the abbey and a companion.

      Both stories can't simultaneously be true, so which one should be discarded, Glasgow Boy? Why should we discard it, and how do you explain away what they saw? I am interested in a good reply on this. It also relates to the article here.

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    8. By coincidence, I have an article on this very subject in the pipeline using the experiences of people that have recently contacted me, so I would rather leave the thinking and comments for that future article.

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    9. Sounds great. I really hope a certain sceptic returns for that one :)

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  3. It looks as if the later recollection was influenced by the increase in publicity since 1951 and given the detail in the original account that seems more accurate
    welcome back comments!

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  4. The skeptical position is that the pre-1933 sightings are only valid if reported pre-1933. Sightings reported AFTER 1933 don't count towards that list, regardless of whether they recall supposed events from long previous. Just FYI.

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    1. I know, and it is an unjustifiable position to take. I would also prefer the reports were contemporary, but that is no reason to reject them.

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    2. Paul Daniels and Buzzy 2 make a good point. There was a hoax a few years ago called The Brentford Griffin. Someone made up a cryptid for fun and publicity. Turned out a few people "remembered" tales of the creature from long before the hoax was born. People are strange animals.

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    3. Hmm, I wonder what a old newspaper search would turn up? Anyway, we know there was an established story of a strange creature in Loch Ness before 1933.

      Not that any of this matters as the sceptics have a Plan B. If someone claimed in a 1909 newspaper that they saw a hump making its way up the loch, our modern day sceptics would just say he saw a bow wave!

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    4. The problem is that the further you go back, the more weird and wonderful monsters you uncover in many of Scotland's lochs. It all comes down to folklore. The Highlands were riddled with these monsters of the mind.

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    5. I have devoted an entire book to this subject. You'll find my arguments in there.

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    6. I've read it. I enjoyed it. But I didn't find it convinced me that the water horses of Loch Ness were any more real than the mythological water beasts elsewhere in Scotland. On that score it failed for this reader. Still worth reading though folks.

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    7. Nothing more to be said then, I guess.

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  5. Glasgow Boy, you're the King of Plan Bs, with your Shock And Awe, dissolving corpses and sonar avoiding animals!

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    1. No, plan A would surely be the existence of irrefutable evidence?

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    2. "irrefutable evidence" is the equivalent of a live specimen or some part of a corpse. How do I "plan" for that?

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    3. A clear video might be a start!!!!

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    4. Been thru that and discussed at GREAT length on this forum before.

      Can we stay on-topic instead of branching off on the old chestnuts?

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    5. Wow sorry dude! The conversation just kind of meandered this way so I thought it was all cool. Apparently not!

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    6. These comment sections have had a horrible tendency to go way off course.

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  6. everybody keep on message!
    the comments section is back and we must cherish it!

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    1. Getting us somewhat back on course I'm not too surprised that these little known or unknown reports of sightings from years ago keep popping up from time to time. I'm also reasonably confident that there are one or two decent quality photos or videos from the past that are as of yet unknown but may one day be discovered through the efforts of GB and this blog, just as he has discovered this old report.

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    2. You gotta be kidding surely? ! You think someone would sit on game-changing footage of the Loch Ness Monster? !! Not a snowball in hell's chance!!

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    3. Exactly the kind of response that would cause such a thing my dear Watson ........

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    4. A little off topic I'm afraid, but I couldn't help responding. Well, there was, supposedly, one cine film shot back in the 30's which was not made public and has since disappeared from the public domain. It is referred to as the McRae film. Dick Raynor has the interesting story here:

      http://www.lochnessinvestigation.com/McRae.htm


      I am sure that film has been mentioned somewhere in this blog, if one searches past articles. Needless to say that if it ever existed, it is lost for good and will probably never see the light of day. In modern times, one would be quite stupid to hide any credible video, especially if one had a mercenary agenda and could make money off of it!

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    5. Pete has a theory that Anon above saying no one would sit on footage would lead to someone sitting on footage. Does anyone follow this logic because I don't.

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    6. I think I know what he means, but he's old enough to look after himself.

      What's your name, by the way?

      Come out from behind the curtain and reveal yourself. These anonymous hiders just confuse the comments, you can't tell one from another.


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    7. On the subject of "game changing" evidence, which I presume means 100% proof to absolutely everyone, I think it very unlikely that any photo or video footage would be satisfactory for this purpose especially in these modern times of ours. It's a fact that there are many instances of people having possession of valuable items, information, photos, art, etc etc that they are quite happy to keep under lock and key for whatever reason. The game changing evidence would have to be a biological specimen of some sort. In response to Anons earlier comment, there are plenty of people out there that don.t crave publicity so they will refrain from exposing themselves to the limelight.

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    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    9. So I was "flushed out"? And now you're trying to flush me away, but I just don't seem to make it around the U-bend...

      ;-)

      Agree with the comments here relating to identity. GB is it not possible for the blog software to exclude the Anonymous option?

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    10. Comments can be liimited to:

      Anyone - includes Anonymous Users
      Registered User - includes OpenID
      User with Google Accounts
      Only members of this blog

      It is currently set to the first one.

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    11. If people are forced to register you'll see a big drop off in new contributors, but obviously you'll get rid of the anonymous poster problem. Guess it's all down to how much you dislike the anonymous messages, GB.

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    12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    13. The infamous divide between British and American humour rears its ugly head again.

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    14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    15. I was sure that I was going to have to commend you Geordie for resisting the temptation to re-join in this forum, but it seems you have buckled so I respectfully withdraw my plaudits :-)

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    16. Wow.

      Loch Ness - great place eh? I might be heading up there again shortly. Wonder what I'll see...

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  7. Shared this great article...Many thanks!

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  8. This has got to be the most ambiguous and confusing account of a Nessie sighting I've read. The letter and the book quotes, not the article! I had to read it twice and carefully the second time to be sure I understood what I read. I hope I interpreted it correctly. First, Stiell says the sighting was in1909 then later on in life he changes it to 1915. The creature initially appears as a horse's head then morphs into a pilot whale! He convinces himself that it was indeed a pilot whale, then, later and finally, a plesiosuar. What the hell! Certainly not a trustworthy witness. I've got to say, that this one leaves me ambivalent. The big mystery is how a whale, if it was a whale, could get into the loch and unnoticed by the populace? Very well, I shall morph into a skeptic, on this one! Kinda leaves me confused on what I've written also.

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    1. Well, not quite. He barely gives a description of the creature in his second account (1962). So we are more reliant on his 1951 account for that. The horse appearance could be interpreted as his initial impression but then we read he approached closer for a better view.

      My view is he looked back on the pliot whale theory and decided it was improbable. He ends up swithering about plesiosaurs "if ..." but as far as I am concerned he saw a large creature in the loch that day and could not put a label to it.


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    2. Agreed, he saw some type of animal. His vacillation just brings his credibility into question.

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    3. Remember this vacillation is spread over 11 years!

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  9. I have to politely echo John Alvarado's sentiments on this one. It all seems so confused and contradictory that I believe it to be worthless as an eyewitness report.

    In addition, I would reluctantly suggest that the article's author is steering away from the pilot whale theory without justification. Further to this, there is the inference that the eyewitness himself probably subsequently rejected the pilot whale theory. I see no evidence to support this suggestion. It appears to emanate from the author's desire for a monster rather than a whale to have been observed.

    I am enjoying this blog once more, but this report is one of the weaker ones in the body of evidence we all take pleasure in.

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    1. Without justification? He mentions plesiosaurs in 1962 and pilot whales in 1951. You may not agree, but you cannot say my opinion in indefensible.

      Over to you, what do you think he saw in 1909 or 1915?


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    2. My position would be that he was wholly unreliable. Therefore no conclusion can be reached about anything he said.

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  10. Actually it is a "good" report for (at least) one very good reason. The witness documents his sighting twice, many years apart, without referencing his own first report before writing the second. This is gold in and of itself when it comes to the subject of how false memories evolve, and by coincidence good little article on the subject of false memories just appeared at NYTimes.com: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/09/was-brian-williams-a-victim-of-false-memory/?src=me&module=Ribbon&version=origin&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Most%20Emailed&pgtype=article

    Or just google "Brian Williams Victim of False Memory" it that link is a pain. Yes, the scandal around journalist Brian Williams inspired the article, but the principles of memory discussed are every bit as applicable here.

    Of special interest here in the case of the Fletcher Stiell memories, one set recorded near the time of the sighting and well before the influence of the 1930's uproar in the press, and the second set recorded in 1951, we can actually see the effect of the 1930's reports, stories and theories, exactly as predicted by the mechanics of false memory described in the Williams article. That infernal plesiosaur idea crept into his mind and began to alter his original recollections. Luckily in this one case, his original memories were preserved in a letter to a newspaper, so we have them for comparison.

    And by a long way around, none of this has anything to do with the animal he must have seen in the Loch in 1909. False memories are neither fakes nor hoaxes nor lies (see the NYTimes piece) and they don't alter whatever really happened.

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    1. They alter what the eyewitness later perceives that he or she saw though. Without question. And unfortunately what was seen gets processed through that system then arrives to us as a report. A perfect illustration of the weakness of eyewitness reports. It's no wonder there are such wild variations.

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    2. Memory mistakes must be the most overused and overrated part of the sceptical armoury. But it must be so tempting to use as it always produces the desired result.

      So what exactly is defective about this man's story? There is not much difference between his two accounts. It is the difference in his opinion that has changed - a completely different matter.

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    3. Dates change, horse head, pilot whale, plesiosaur... it's hard enough to believe the stories that remain consistent. This dude blows it completely in my book.

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    4. Confusing the year fifty years on is hardly surprising.

      He didn't say it had a horse's head, pilot whale and plesiosaur is a matter of interpretation and not recall.

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    5. Always so forgiving of the gaping holes in eyewitness testimony. :-(

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    6. Speaking of memory, since I'm going on memory, I recall somebody who claimed Lachlan Stuart revealed his "Hay Bale Hoax" to him getting roundly hammered here for offering differing dates, GB. I believe his credibility was dismissed out of hand. It can't go both ways when it suits the account.
      Regardless of that, I would agree with the idea of the theory of the day later on clearly influenced the vastly differing accounts of the creature. He was quite sure it was a pilot whale early on, rather forceful about it. Later it's a plesiosaur, after the plesiosaur craze hit full stride. Mixed up dates, descriptions... all points to an unreliable eyewitness. It doesn't hold much water, other than as an interesting, rare story added to the book of the Loch Ness Phenomena.

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    7. I think that was differing accounts, not dates; unless you wish to clarify.

      To repeat, the two accounts only really differ in years. Stiell does not say he thought it was a plesiosaur, and difference in opinion as to what the creature might be is not the same as difference in what he saw.

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    8. It was Richard Frere, GB. I apologize for not recalling the name at the time. I was in a fun fog of cough syrup thanks to a double ear infection. Rereading the article, there were questions about differing accounts over the years and some mixed up dates, which it seems was attributed to Ted Holiday and not Frere.
      You're correct on the plesiosaur reference, I read it incorrectly. However, you can clearly see the influence of the times during the early '60s and Tim's film had on the thought process. Interesting nonetheless.

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  11. I also believe that the later plesiosaur comment was caused by the in vogue theory of the 1960s.

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  12. So tempted to join in here..... must resist.... must resist!

    GS

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  13. Loch Ness is too dark and cold an environment for a plesiosaur.

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  14. It's all these stories of the LM that make me look under by bed each night.

    Wendy, page three model.

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    1. So is this how anonymous posters now distinguish themselves - "page three model"?!

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  15. Theobald Valentine McDelivery13 February 2015 at 11:45

    Salutations and warmest regards, people of the loch!

    One has to consider: would our famous beast of the north be seen without dapple of cow, or horn of deer? One would suspect not.

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  16. Jimmy if you do your homework we now know plesiosaurs did live in some really cold places.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Chasing Leviathan13 February 2015 at 13:41

    Say No to Page Three! :)

    Any chance you could put up Mr Bankes' second letter, GB? It'd be interesting to read it in full.

    Good to have the Comments section back. Thank you. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. If people could just take a deep breath and count to 20 before submitting their posts, life would be much easier. It's a fantastic way to avoid posting angry tirades which makes one look silly. It also avoids the need to delete one's comments afterwards.

    Just a little tip for anyone struggling to stay civil.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or I delay comments to let some cool down a bit!

      Delete
    2. Yes, I agree it was silly and immature, not so much anger as annoyance and irritation. Sorry I deleted my comments, now future readers will never know what the big brouhaha was all about or the full context in which they were made. I did not want to leave any evidence of my involvement and since it was off-topic and had spilled over from another article (those were also deleted) I thought it was best to delete them. I apologize to you GB and to the readers.

      Delete
    3. You are forgiven, John A. These things happen, especially to the more passionate among us.

      Delete
    4. Thank you John. From now on, I'll bite my tongue!

      Delete
  19. "Unfortunately I was alone in the boat and had no camera, but for about three minutes I was parallel and only about twenty-five yards from the animal."

    How does The Loch Ness Monster always seem to know when someone doesn't have a camera? It always seems to be the case that these lengthy close up sightings take place when the observer has no camera. Very strange!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't really expect an angler in 1909 to bring a camera with him!

      Delete
    2. Neither would I. However, it's interesting that no one ever reports such bold and lengthy displays from the monster since cameras became ten a penny.

      Delete
    3. But what has that to do with this article?

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    4. I just feel that these wondrous close up and lengthy displays from long ago don't get reported nowadays in the age of the pocket camera. That feels like too much of a coincidence to me. The feeling is that imaginations were free to run wild in the days before we all carried a device which could prove or disprove such an event. Just my humble view that things don't stack up for this and other such reports, in the light of the last few decades.

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    5. Well, Anonymous 1, 2 or 3. This subject has been done to death. I intend to put up an FAQ of common questions and I will redirect you and others to that in future instead of clogging up other articles with the same discussions ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

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    6. Glasgow Boy forgive me but this issue is far too big to be simply swept aside with a simple FAQ. I can't see how anyone can properly answer the problem of the lengthy close up sightings disappearing in the era of the pocket camera. Do you propose to brush it aside and say ok that's dealt with, now can we return to discussing all those wonderful reports from the early twentieth century? How could that realistically work? I am intrigued about that as much as I'm intrigued by the history of the loch.

      Delete
    7. Well, if you think no one can properly answer the problem, there is no point in discussing it further.

      Bye.

      Delete
  20. How does a pilot whale swim with its head out of the water? And why no mention of a dorsal fin? Great to have the comments section back!
    Paddy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Paddy, an unreliable witness from top to toe.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous, you're missing my point. I can accept that the man saw a large animal of some sort in the Loch. What is unreliable is his identification of the animal as a whale due to the description. Whales don't swim with their heads out of the water.

      Delete
    3. Exactly my point. How on earth could he have later suggested a pilot whale if he saw a head out of water? It brings the entire account into question.

      Delete
    4. Let us apply a bit more thought here. I assumed he was seeing the classic head, neck and hump in simultaneous display. However, his account does not explicitly say that (although it is a reasonable assumption).

      However, it is also possible, since he viewed the creature over several minutes that he saw the back on its own, and then later the head and neck protruded from the waters after the back had submerged.

      Delete
    5. Let us apply logic and make no such assumption at all! It's only a logical assumption if you're out to prove it was something in particular. This whole debacle scores nil points for me.

      Delete
    6. Have to say it seems like some people are saying they can select the parts of this fellow's testimony they like, and then discard the parts they don't like. We are often told that eyewitness testimony holds up in court. This fellow would be laughed out of the dock!

      Delete
    7. You're begining to sound like a certain sceptic. It is perfectly reasonable to set out a scenario which made this man think he saw a pilot whale.

      Meanwhile, it is becoming clearer what outcome you want.

      Delete
    8. Okay, these anonymous sceptics are begining to be like the hive Borg. Shall I call you "2 of 3"? Back to your complaint, which parts did I discard?

      Delete
    9. Discarding the whale bit, keeping the plesiosaur bit. The comtradiction should make you consign this to the bin, rather than just keep the good bits for the Nessie story.

      Delete
    10. Still not revealing yourself, hmm?

      I said which parts did *I* discard?

      Delete
    11. Ignore Anonymous 2, Glasgow Boy. He texted me just now from the pub. He's an argumentative so and so when he's on the beer.

      Delete
  21. Interesting article. The mass of evidence is hard to ignore. It seems very unlikely that everyone was mistaken or lied.

    ReplyDelete
  22. GS, you're pushing the boundaries again. I won't let you use this blog to promote your own so called "more balanced, logical places". You can do that elsewhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well it wasn't meant that way. I was actually trying to stop you from being bombarded by sceptical messages, suggesting that these anonymous sceptics could go elsewhere and we could email eachother. I think it's clear you'd prefer it if no sceptical comments were ever posted on your blog. I can't win - my motives are always assumed to be bad.

      Delete
    2. I think you're being a bit naive here. Sceptics only talking to each other would soon descend into mindless boredom as they discussed the merits of whether a sighting was a piece of floating wood or a duck.

      Yawn!

      Delete
    3. Yes, some of us prefer science books to fantasy. Those who love fantasy would indeed find sceptical analysis boring.

      But boring doesn't mean incorrect.

      Delete
    4. Hmm, well I have a BSc Hons degree in Astronomy, an Ordinary degree in Mathematics and am a senior software engineer. So I think the science and logic bit is well embedded in me.

      Delete
    5. You sure it wasn't Astrology? ;-)

      You also make many sci fi references in your posts, so I know you have an attraction to fantasy too.

      Delete
    6. Yes, fictional works appeal even to logicians. It's what makes us rounded people.

      If you're having trouble commiting to staying away from this blog (an addiction perhaps?), I am more than willing to help you by auto-deleting all your comments.








      Delete
    7. No need, GB, I quite like it here now.

      Delete
    8. Really? For all we know, you have a 100 different IDs on a 100 different forums, a slave to your addiction as you trawl for hours on end thru these forums looking for that debating fix.

      Believe me, I would be doing you a favour on the road to rehab.

      Delete
    9. For all we know, you could have that issue. I'm not on any other crypto forums, are you?

      Delete
    10. That's what I would expect an addict to say - you're in denial GS!

      Delete
    11. Stay on topic please.

      Delete
    12. In denial ....

      Actually, only kidding, GS. This apaprently useless thread does have a topical use.

      You see, anyone can create any background story out of thin air to explain something. In this case, it was your high level presence on this blog.

      In the context of the Loch Ness Monster, it is not so much "explain" as "explain away".

      In that light, I note a recent comment by a leading Nessie sceptic who tried to pull a fast one by portraying poor, young, impressionable Margaret Munro as exagerrating her 1936 drawing and testimony due to the influence of big, bad Alex Campbell.

      Easy to say, as I said. Not so easy to prove.

      I don't think a herd of Nessies could produce more crap but such is the state of sceptical thinking today.

      Delete
    13. Crap? That reminds me of your article examining whether monsters feed on human faeces from the sewage works. You should have saved that article for 1st April.

      Delete
    14. You're exagerrating again.

      I never said LNMs feed on human faeces.


      Delete
    15. Now who is exaggerating? I said you wrote an article examining whether monster feed on human faeces. You did write such an article. At first I thought it was a hilarious spoof on your part, then realised you were actually seriously discussing it. My reaction was a cross between bemusement and slight shock at the time.

      Delete
    16. It is clear to me that you have not read the article properly.

      Delete
    17. Ok I must have imagined the article on Nessie and sewage then.

      Delete
    18. Do these extra potential chemicals such as nitrogen and potassium do anything for a sludge sifting monster? 

      That is a line from your article on sewage. Yes you also mention the effects on the food chain later, but the above line makes me think you considered a monster sifting through human faeces.

      Delete
    19. Solid human waste doesn't make it thru the filtration process, but nutrient byproducts can and it is chemicals such as these which can eutrophy a lake. My speculation revolved around how the food chain and hence an apex animal would be affected by varying levels of such products.

      Delete
  23. Ok, being less obtuse, I will explain my reasons for being here. You may note, however, that I have not debated this report, nor the next one. I said I wouldn't while censorship is in place, and I haven't.

    My reason for being here is that I share your passion for the Loch Ness story, GB. It truly intrigues me. You have written this blog for many years, so you can identify with my feeling. The only difference is our conclusion. I am utterly convinced that the LNM is a psychological phenomenon, you are convinced that real, as yet unknown 20ft+ monsters are swimming the loch and climbing out to walk on land.

    We both share a passion, but from different angles. I thoroughly welcome any comment or viewpoint on this subject, whether it matches or opposes my thoughts. Why be so scared of a debate? Are we not here to think and discuss?

    Regarding other fringe subjects, I can categorically tell you I am on no other forums, be it Bigfoot, other lake myths, UFOs, ghosts or 911 conspiracies. I have no interest in those. If you think I've been on them, please publish a link to the posts in question - I'm all ears!

    You would always be welcome with your viewpoint in my world, GB. I have nothing to fear from any opinion related to this subject.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous, as far as Mr. Stiell's testimony not holding up in court that may or may not be the case. In court there would be questioning, cross examination and re-direction to clarify his testimony. In that scenario we'd be able to reasonably determine what he meant by the animal having its head out of the water, whether or not it had a dorsal fin, why he likened it to a pilot whale and what he meant when he later said it was not unlike a plesiosaur. But as it stands all we can say is that Mr. Stiell saw a rather large animal in Loch Ness.
    Paddy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not quite. We can say he said he saw one.

      Delete