A large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 37 kilometers southwest of Inverness. Its surface is 16 meters above sea level. It is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil.
Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster. The earliest report of a monster in the vicinity of Loch Ness appears in the Life of St. Columba by Adomnán, written in the sixth century AD. According to Adomnán, writing about a century after the events described, Irish monk Saint Columba was staying in the land of the Picts (eastern and northern Scotland) with his companions when he encountered local residents burying a man by the River Ness. They explained that the man was swimming in the river when he was attacked by a “water beast” that mauled him and dragged him underwater.
Columba sent a follower, Luigne moccu Min, to swim across the river. The beast approached him, but Columba made the sign of the cross and said: “Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once.” The creature stopped as if it had been “pulled back with ropes” and fled, and Columba’s men and the Picts gave thanks for what they perceived as a miracle.
The first modern discussion of a sighting of a strange creature in the loch may have been in the 1870s, when D. Mackenzie of Balnain claimed to have seen something “wriggling and churning up the water”. This account was not published until 1934, however. Research indicates that several newspapers did publish items about a creature (large “beast” or “whale-like fish” ) in the loch well before 1934.
Over the years various hoaxes were also perpetrated, usually “proven” by photographs that were later debunked.