Profiling the Nessie Seekers

Posted by: Nick Redfern on February 27th, 2013

Loch Ness researcher Adrian Shine. Picture: Jane Barlow

The Scotsman has an excellent, and balanced, new article on some of the most famous figures within the field of Nessie-seeking, including Adrian Shine and Steve Feltham.

Peter Ross’ feature on the guys in question begins like this:

The legend of the loch may be 80 years old, but this unseen octogenarian still has a monster following, as Peter Ross discovers.

‘DO NOT dally! Do not dally!’ Adrian Shine – naturalist, force of nature and erstwhile monster hunter – is leading the way through the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre, which he designed, and which is home to some of the ‘toys’ he has used in 40 years of exploring this and other lochs, including a tiny home-made submarine. He is a tall man with a hawkish profile and great white beard, striding the darkened corridors in a three-piece tweed suit and tartan tie, his mellifluous voice sounding in the murk. It is like being led around the chocolate factory by Willy Wonka, or by the Doctor showing off his Tardis.”

“Shine,” the article continues, “moved to the Highlands from his native Surrey in 1973, a restless maverick seeking ‘fame and glory, even in the cannon’s mouth – youth is like that’. He was part of a wave of amateur investigators each keen to find evidence that, depending on their own beliefs, the monster did or did not exist. There was something about that moment, in the late Sixties, early Seventies, as the countercultural tide lapped up against the shore of science, when anything – Atlantis, UFOs, Nessie – seemed possible, and Loch Ness became a proving ground for anyone with a working boat and a working theory.

Yet the monster legend predates the hippy era. Accounts of a mysterious creature in the loch go back to around 700AD when Adomnán, the abbot of Iona, wrote that St Columba had once driven away the monster as it was on the point of devouring one of his followers.

However, the birth of the Loch Ness Monster as a global media and tourism phenomenon is about to have its 80th anniversary. Nessie may be a plesiosaur; she may be a sturgeon; she may even be a he – the theories are endless – but one thing is sure: she will very shortly be an octogenarian.

It was on 14 April, 1933, while driving along the north-western shore of the loch, near Abriachan pier, that Aldie Mackay, manageress of the Drumnadrochit Hotel, is said to have spotted an enormous creature with a body resembling that of a whale rolling in the roiling water. “Stop!” she yelled to her husband, John, who was driving. “The beast!”

Aldie Mackay made no mention of the now iconic long neck, or at least that did not feature in the account of her sighting which was published in the Inverness Courier, headlined “Strange Spectacle In Loch Ness”, on 2 May. She herself was shy of publicity and was not quoted in the article, fearing that people would say she should take more water in her whisky. It was the then editor, Evan ­Macleod Barron, who suggested that the creature should be described as a “monster” – and this story and soubriquet, together, proved so tantalising that they were retold by newspapers around the world, bringing journalists and then tourists flocking to an area of Scotland which had hitherto been rather obscure. “This,” says Adrian Shine, meaning the whole global phenomenon, “is Mrs Mackay’s legacy.”

And here’s where you can find the full post, which also references the now-departed Tim Dinsdale and Frank Searle.

Nick Redfern About Nick Redfern
Punk music fan, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew beer fan, horror film fan, chocolate fan, like to wear black clothes, like to stay up late. Work as a writer.

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