Sunday 2 September 2012

The Culture of Nessie

This post is a place holder for articles which address the cultural aspects of the Loch Ness Monster. This blog of course covers the main theme of Nessie herself and those who pursue her but a modern day mythology has wrapped itself around the creature as society in its various aspects expresses their various conceptions of the Loch Ness Monster.

The old Highlanders mapped their bridled demon onto the mysterious object that ploughed its way thru Loch Ness and modern man is no different in how he processes the beast through various cultural filters of the day. You have the Commercial filter where outlets sell postcards (above), fluffy toys, fridge magnets and badges portraying something ranging from a green monster wearing a tartan bunnet to a more standard looking plesiosaur.

You have the Hollywood filter which either portrays Nessie as a gentle giant appealing to family audiences such as in the 2007 "The Water Horse" film or for the less nervous we have the marauding man eater such as in the 2008 film "Loch Ness Terror". All entertaining stuff but not much to do with that thing looking like an upturned boat slowly gliding to a point of submerging.

That is also reflected in the literary world where films often take their ideas. Steve Alten's "The Loch" leads a genre of book which stays with the mysterious beast you need to avoid at all costs ranging to titles where things are just generally a bit mysterious and edgy.

This is most reflected in the Childrens' filter where we see that the Loch Ness Monster seems to have some magical appeal to kids. There are more books written on Nessie for kids than other audiences and I don't see that trend changing anytime soon. This can range from green Nessies which present the Loch Ness story in a kid-like way to general friendly Nessie stories. By the way, if anyone can guess why Nessie is often presented as a green creature in many cultural references despite being generally described as grey or black, I would be interested in your comment. Clearly, grey/black is not a cheery colour or conducive to entertaining, but why green?

Each of these filters or genres presents the Monster in a different way to its intended audience. But like the Kelpie of old, they may bear little resemblance to the underlying reality. Even the more serious books which concentrate on the evidence and seek to avoid "entertaining" are not immune to cultural influences as more popular theories such as the plesiosaur one infiltrate the handling of the evidence. In the end, culture is the sum of all our preferences and prejudices and the Loch Ness Monster is no more immune to that than any other folklore, be it modern or ancient.

Below are links to the various articles I have written relating to the Culture of Nessie.

Nessie and the Silly Season - link

The Loch Ness Eels (fictional book) - link and link

Loch Ness Monster Exhibitions - link

 Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (film) - link

Loch Ness Monster Pictures - link and link and link and link

Nessie Cartoons - link

Nessie Simulacra - link

The Secret of the Loch (1934 film) - link

Who would own Nessie? - link

Tourism Wars at Loch Ness - link

Loch Ness Artists - link

Some Nessie Tidbits - link

Nessie banknotes - link 

Some Nessie Paintings - link

Asterix, Doctor Who and Nessie - link

Some Pathe Newsreels on Nessie - link

Another Loch Ness Painting - link

Two Books and Two Kelpies - link

Christmas and Nessie - link

World War II and Nessie - link

The Commonwealth Games and Nessie - link

The Loch Ness Monster and the BBC - link

Early Artistic Depictions of Nessie - link

Nessie says No! - link

Nessie, Salmond and Bonfires - link

Nessie Cartoons Through the Years - link

The Nessie Effect - link

Nessie in the Kitchen - link

Most Popular Cryptid? - link

The Soviets on Nessie - link

Nessie: Scotland's National Animal? - link

New Loch Ness Tourism Website - link

Was Nessie invented by a publicist? - link and link

An old tale from Loch Ness - link

Nessie named after the Queen? - link

Nessie on the Internet rise - link

The Year of the Monster (artist) - link

Oor Wullie meets Nessie - link


  1. I remember buying a fridge magnet from the former Dallas Book Depository, now known as the assasination museum and guess what ? it still was not Lee Harvey Oswald

  2. Hi

    I have just read a very intriguing story by Leslie Charteris about the Saint character and the monster called "A Convenient Monster" (written in the early 1960s I believe) It's an interesting tale as everything leads you to believe the monster doesn't exist, but then there is a twist at the end! There was also a TV episode made from this story, which I haven't seen. I'm sure you would find the story of interest if you can track it down.


    Mike, Huddersfield

    1. Ha! I do have the TV episode on VHS and enjoyed watching it. I didn't realise Charteris wrote the story as well. Thanks for the info.

    2. GB : how could you forget 1961 classic romp :
      What a Whopper ! Perhaps should have been titled
      Carry on Up the Glen .
      So bad's good ?

    3. Yeah, well. Nessie only appears at the end!

    4. Thanks GB . Another query if I may ?
      Did a member of the Ancient Order of Druids
      put in an appearance at Loch Ness sometime in
      90s ? I think he used a Carynx to lure Nessie
      to the surface......well, you would ,wouldn't you ? Nil desperandum !

    5. That would be Kevin Carlyon, you can google him.

    6. Hmm....modest as ever it appears he has now
      declared himself : the Living God of all Witches.
      .......this is one of these occasions where
      comment is probably superfluous .

  3. Have you heard of The Ballad of Nessie?

    1. I finally watched it, a well made animation. Not exactly accurate though!

  4. I thought the Steve Alten book was awful. According to the liner notes he employed a 'dialect expert', yet all his Highlanders sound like castoffs from Trainspotting. "Dae ye ken whit ah mean, laddie?"

    You're more likely to find a Highlander speaking Swahili than using the above term.

  5. When I was stationed in Suffolk in the early 1980's there was an advertisement for a brand of scotch that showed a woman waterskiing, being pulled along by Nessie. Loved it; wish I had kept a copy.

    1. I think I have a copy, it occasionally turns up on eBay.