Nessie

20 – First newspaper report of Nessie

April 21 1934

WHAT is Scotland’s most famous animal?

Is it the Highland coo? The golden eagle, perhaps? Or even the red squirrel?
Och, don’t be daft – it’s Nessie, of course!

Although she was first spotted by St Columba way back in the year 565, it wasn’t until modern technology allowed her to be photographed that interest in her skyrocketed.

Probably the most famous image of our magnificent monster was the “Surgeon’s Photograph”, which is claimed to be the first photo of a “head and neck”.

This most iconic of Nessie photos was supposedly taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson, a London gynaecologist, and captured the nation’s imagination when it hit the press.

Wilson claimed that he was looking at the loch when he saw the monster, so he grabbed his camera and snapped four photos.

But all was not as it seemed . . .

Nessie is now an icon (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Nessie is now an icon (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

In the 1990s the photo was revealed as a hoax.

Details of how the deception was achieved appeared in a book, which revealed the ‘monster’ was in fact a toy submarine bought from Woolworths and altered by Christian Spurling, son-in-law of Marmaduke Wetherell.

Wetherell was a big game hunter who had been publicly ridiculed by his employer in a national newspaper, after finding “Nessie footprints” that turned out to be those of a hippopotamus-foot umbrella stand.

To get revenge, Wetherell set up the hoax, with Spurling’s help.

Despite this, to this day there continue to be hunts, speculation, debunking and blurry snaps of the elusive beastie.

Whether myth or reality, the world loves a mystery – and Nessie is perhaps Scotland’s greatest mystery of all.