Sunday, 2 February 2014

The Marjory Moir Story Revisited

I showcased this classic sighting from 1936 in a previous article. You may think that would have been it but a comment submitted to that article recently has brought it back to life in more ways than one.

Marjory Moir passed away some years back but before then her account was recorded on audio tape back in the early 1980s by her granddaughter. The transcript of that conversation is given below as Mrs. Moir relives that exciting day fifty years previously.

The other fascinating thing about this new information is that one of the witnesses is still alive today and living in Scotland! Indeed, she had a second sighting of the creature, although it was not as spectacular as this famous account. She was the youngest of the party and is called "Ann" here to respect her anonymity.

The recounting of this story begins with some words from her granddaughter:

I am the granddaughter of Marjory Moir. She was one of the most sensible, down to earth people you could meet. She had a very interesting life, which included living and travelling in America and other far away places. She was intelligent and articulate and was absolutely not the kind of person that needed to invent stories to gain attention. She had many interesting tales to relate about her experiences and travels, of which the monster sighting was just one.

As several members of my family had seen the creature, it was simply common knowledge in our family that it did exist. It was a recurring topic of conversation over the years, and accounts were retold and discussed by all family members, with the details never changing.

A few years before my grandmother died, I asked her to tell me again about the time she saw the Loch Ness monster and recorded the conversation onto cassette. I still have the recording in my possession and it is six and half minutes long.

When this was recorded my grandmother was in her mid-eighties and a little forgetful, but nevertheless able to relate her experience very clearly. 

I notice there appears to be some confusion about who was driving the car on the day of the 1936 sighting. As I mentioned, my grandmother was becoming forgetful in her eighties, and although she remembered all of the others who who were there, she forgot to mention Mrs Grant Shewglie on the cassette recording. So who was driving and who had to move the car to make way for the other vehicle is not totally clear, but probably the earlier accounts are more accurate as her memory was obviously fresher then. However the details about the sighting itself remained unchanged, also during the numerous retellings and discussions of the subject within our family over the years.

The four other people in her car that day in October 1936 were:-

1. Her sister Barbara, also referred to as Bab or Baba
2. A girl, nine years old at the time, referred to as "Ann". (edited)
3. Her husband Jack's mother, 'Granny Moir'
4. A friend, Mrs Grant Shewglie who she forgets to name in this account.

Mrs. Moir now recounts her story. The event happened on the road north of Foyers. The picture below from 1951 gives an idea of the background to the story that day. The interviewer is designated as "I" and Mrs. Moir as "M".

I: "Tell me, you saw the Loch Ness monster, didn't you?"

M: "Hmm?"

I: "You saw the Loch Ness monster - haven't you?"

M: "Oh yes I did indeed. I got one of the best views ever got of it. We watched it for fourteen minutes."

I: "Tell me about that. When did it happen?"

M: "Well, oh what year was it? Before we came to Edinburgh. Bab and I were coming back from - we'd gone to Foyers, which is about fifteen miles up towards Loch Ness from Inverness - fifteen miles. We went out for afternoon tea and we had Granny Moir. Jack's mother was with us. There was myself and Barbara, Granny Moir and Ann. How many? How many people's that? Me and Baba and Granny Moir and - and em, Ann. Five of...four of us.

And we were coming - I was driving, and of course there was a part of the road that was very near the loch, and no trees between us and the loch, and - and eh, Baba said; "Oooh!" she said; "There's the Loch Ness monster." and I stopped the car. And sure enough here was this thing on the top of the waves. So I got - stopped the car - pulled the car into a sort of layby, and we went down to the edge of - of the loch, in amongst the pebbles, and we watched it. It would be about a third of the way across the loch.

At that particular place the loch would be about a mile and a half wide, and we went down to watch it, and it would be about a third of a mile from us. And it was a - it had three humps, a little hump and a big hump and a smaller hump, and a long neck with a head, you know. And we went down and we watched it. And it dipped - it kept dipping its head into the water and playing itself, and then all of a sudden it turned and fled - turned round away from us and went straight across the loch, and it made a terrific wave on the shore, and Ann had to get out of the way of the - of the - of the wave. It came up onto the shore.

And then it, it - you could see the top of its head or the top of the middle hump all the way across the loch to Drumnadrochit, and there it turned. It came straight back to where it was before and Ann was standing like this (gestures), scared of it. And it came right back to where it was originally and took up its position, but there were no humps on it this time, the back was straight. Previously the back had been three humps, but this time the back was straight but it still had the curved neck and dipping its head in the water.

And we watched it and watched it. And eventually there was a hoot, hoot, hooting on the road. It's a very narrow road, and somebody a - a baker's van or something was coming and I had to come up and move the car on. So by the time I came back from moving the car to let this other fellow past, it had disappeared. But it was a grand view of it. Three humps: a wee hump, a big hump and a little hump and a neck like that (gestures), and it would be about thirty feet long I should imagine. Nobody's ever discovered what it is."

"Oh yes, that was the Loch Ness monster. And I remember they (her grandparents) lived in a farm away up at the top of Dores. A farm called Urquhart."

I: "Oh yes."

M: "Lovely part of the country and eh, he (her father) used to be annoying the farm workers. It was quite a big farm, and my grandparents were good workers and it was a good farm. And he used to annoy the kids - the - the workmen, and my father said that - that they used to frighten him by saying that if they - if he didn't behave himself the em,...oh... 'something' would get him - the oh, the Gaelic name for the - for the monster - the Gaelic for a water horse, whatever that - I can't remember it unfortunately. But they said that if he didn't behave himself that the water horse would get him, using the Gaelic word which meant the monster. So the monster must have been there many, many years ago.

"Oh yes I've seen it. People don't believe me but I have seen it - watched it, stood on the shores and looked at it and saw it. And it was in television and I was on the radio about it too. They gave me a fiver for talking about it (laughs). Och, it's been a very interesting life you know."

I: "Yes I think so. You've only seen the monster once then?"

M: "Only once I've seen it, yes."

The Gaelic for "Water Horse" is "Each Uisge" and it is not surprising (to me) that old tales of this creature in Loch Ness were known to locals from the nineteenth century. So it is great to read this witness testimony coming back to us over the decades and also exciting to know that one witness still lives today.

You may have your own views on this story but it certainly continues to hold the status of "classic sighting" amongst believers in the Loch Ness Monster.


  1. They gave her a fiver for talking about it? Very hard to accept this now...

  2. Probably about a couple hundred quid in today's money.

  3. Mrs. Moir's sighting is similar to a sighting from May 1934 by a Mrs. K. MacDonald. Mrs. MacDonald claimed to have seen, from 40-50 yards, a big hump surface, that morphed into 3 humps (a large central hump and 2 smaller humps at each end). Then a fourth hump emerged separated by water from the other humps. This fourth hump turned out to be the back of an elongated neck, which reared out of the water and at the end of which was a small head.


    1. I'll look that one up, looks an even better account.

    2. There's more to Kathleen MacDonald's sighting than that. In fact, she had two of them in very different circumstances:

      In February 1932 Miss Kathleen MacDonald of Inverness observed an animal swimming up-river towards the Holm Mills weir. She reported an animal six to eight feet in total length, with a very short neck and long toothed jaws, generally crocodile-like in appearance. Miss MacDonald reported seeing a second unknown animal two years later in May of 1934 between Lochend and Abriachan, although she described this one as possessing three distinct humps, an undulating neck, and small head. In The Loch Ness Monster, Rupert Gould uses the distinct morphological differences noted in these two reports to suggest that the animal seen by Miss MacDonald in the River Ness was not the monster proper and not the same animal seen by here two years later, although he makes no attempt to identify it. A possibility which Gould fails to address is that during the two years separating the MacDonald sightings the animal may have grown and developed in shape. While Gould does not report an estimated length of the animal observed in the second sighting he does provide a silhouette drawing, based on a sketch provided by Miss MacDonald, which suggests a size greater than the six to eight foot estimate given for the animal seen in 1932. The animal in the drawing also possesses a pronounced neck, although one decidedly shorter than that reported in subsequent sightings. Could Miss MacDonald have had the privilege of seeing Nessie entering the loch via the River Ness as an infant in 1932, and then again observed the same animal in a more developed state two years later? Gould certainly offers no evidence that would disqualify the possibility.


  4. Mrs Moir's granddaughter5 February 2014 at 03:23

    The monster sighting is just six and a half minutes out of about two hours of recorded conversations between my grandmother and I, made during the time that I was living with her for a few years towards the end of her life. My reason for making these recordings was not specifically just the monster account itself, but rather to make a general record of some of her life stories and adventures while there was still time to do so. It had become clear that her memory was fading.

    I set up the cassette recorder in her living room and started asking her questions about the stories I’d been hearing from her all my life. It was just a casual domestic situation with no press or strangers around. She knew I believed everything she was saying. Although she was old, she was comfortably well-off with nothing to prove to anyone anymore. No one had ever dreamed of such a phenomenon as the internet back then, and at the time of recording she probably believed no one outside myself and my family would ever listen to it.

    As ‘Ann’ is a family member, I’ve also spoken to her many times about this sighting. She remembers the great fear that being so close to the creature inspired. She said she felt terrified that it might come up onto the shore to where they were standing watching it.

    I’m glad this article has attracted some comments already and I’ll keep checking in from time to time to see if more appear. If anyone out there has questions, I can try to answer them as best I can. However I just want to emphasise that I’m not a scientist, expert or anything else of the sort. I just happen to have been born into a family that used to live on the shores of Loch Ness, and that is the only reason for my having any connection whatsoever to the topic. I find the subject of the monster as baffling and intriguing as the next person.

    1. I realize that it might be a lot to ask, but I am sure I – as well as many other readers on this site – would greatly appreciate it if you were to interview "Ann" in the same way you did your grandmother and post the results to this site. Group sightings like this are rare enough, and to have a proper chronicling of what both your grandmother and "Ann" saw would be a real treasure!

    2. Mrs Moir's granddaughter6 February 2014 at 05:10

      Yes, you're right. Ok, I will see about doing this.

  5. What a wonderful account; which really brings this old and classic sighting to life.

  6. What a great story and we are so lucky to have it captured here . This website is in my opinion the best resource online for a subject that has been a life long hobby of mine and I find myself returning almost everyday to read the comments . Thanks Glasgow Boy !

  7. Jenny, I 've read somewhere that a local Loch Ness resident had a pet crocodile or gharial (I can't remember which) that escaped. It was presumed to have made it's way into the Loch and succumbed to the cold temperature. Perhaps that's what Miss MacDonald saw in the river in 1932? Here in the U.S. south in recent years, alligators are being seen and removed from lakes which are normally considered too cold for them to survive in. Given this, my own view is that some aquatic reptiles are a bit more cold tolerant than is recognized by science.

    I didn't see fit to mention Miss MacDonald's 1932 sighting in my previous post as my point was to highlight the similarity between Miss MacDonald's 1934 sighting and that of Mrs. Moir. I do need to correct something in my previous post: Miss MacDonald actually stated the creature was 30-40 yards away.


    1. That's interesting - thanks, Paddy. I'd never heard about the escaped croc - do you happen to know roughly when that might have been? I'd always suspected that Miss MacDonald's earlier sighting may have been a sturgeon. Sturgeon can look pretty crocodilian (or reptilian) to those not familiar with them. Furthermore, some reports claim that she said the earlier creature "resembled a crocodile with tusks". The "tusks" could perhaps have been a sturgeon's barbels? At any rate, I'd suspect a sturgeon before I'd suspect that she'd seen a morphologically different juvenile Nessie as the article I linked to suggests (although I broadly agree with its overall suggestion that Nessie is a rogue marine dwelling creature).

    2. I read an article in a newspaper from 1933 or 1934 mentioning this escape crocodile story. I would have to dig around to see if I copied it but it didn't give much details on who the owner might have been, though I think I recall he was a resident of Dores.

    3. I also remember reading stories of a crocodile in Loch Ness. I think one account was in Tim Dinsdale's first book or Monster Hunt 1972 Edition, and one account of a pilot flying over the loch and spotting a large crocodile or alligator like creature in Urquhart bay, but for the life of me can't remember the source or the date of that one. The article referenced by Jenny was very enlightening and gave me food for thought, I have always been of the belief that Nessies were pemanently landlocked, but after reading the Stangemag article, I'm not so sure anymore. If there's any validity to a roaming Nessie, then somehow,someway they are able to negotiate all the obstacles in thier way, which brings to mind the Moray Firth sighting by Celia Hawe.

  8. More about the Loch Ness crocodile story: Gould's book mentions that there was a lady who visited her husband's family in the Loch Ness area in 1888. Her father-in-law told her of a friend of his who lived in the Dores area. The man had lived in Africa for a period of time and became fond of crocodiles. He had three crocs imported to his home, and had a specially built tank to hold them, but when the crocs got large he became afraid of them and planned to give them away to a zoo, but one of them escaped. It was assumed it made its way into the Loch, and the lady who relayed the tale said that her husband's family warned her about the crocodile seen on the rocks in the Dores area. I have serious doubts that the escaped crocodile of 1888 is the same animal seen by Miss MacDonald in the river in 1932.


    1. Thanks, Paddy. I thought it had to do with Dores. A search of the papers of that time may throw up a rumour or two.

  9. In Gould's book there's an interesting footnote to the discussion of the Loch Ness crocodile. It is as follows: "Mr. C.W. Ingram informs me that a skull, believed to be that of a crocodile, was brought up in a fishing net at the mouth of the River Shiel, in Loch Moidart. It was not a fossil, and did not seem to have been immersed very long. Probably, it was some relic or trophy which had been jettisoned."

    But what if it wasn't a croc skull? Gould's language suggests the identification was less than certain. What if it was the skull of a recently deceased lake monster? It could be that our lake monsters skulls bear a passing resemblance to crocs. Especially if they're related. I'm coming uncomfortably close to implying a plesiosaur identification, and as much as I'd rather not open that whole can of worms, at least some plesiosaur skulls do bear a more than passing resemblance to crocodile skulls. What if the proof is actually tucked away in some private collector's or museum's cabinet or shelf mis-labelled as a croc skull? Hmmmm .......


    1. I followed up the crocs slant on Loch Ness and will add some thing at a later date (such as another article confirms the croc-like skull).