Saturday, 10 December 2016

Saint Cummin's Bell

In a loch the size of Loch Ness, you will expect a wide of variety of objects to be lying at the bottom of its dark, murky depths. We have mentioned a panoply of such things over the lifetime of this blog and they include John Cobb's speedboat, various ships, a Viking longship, a Wellington Bomber, a monster prop, the body of Winifred Hambro, fridges, cars, myriad pieces of Nessie hunting equipment, steam tractors from the time of the 1930s road expansion and, of course, a number of Nessie carcasses. Perhaps you can add your own object to this Loch Ness junkyard.

Now I find another object named in the Aberdeen Press and Journal, dated 13th December 1950. This goes back to July 1544 and I reproduce the article below.

In hindsight, the story was already in my copy of George Campbell's "The First and Lost Iona". The bell was taken from the ruined priory at Cille-Chumein (the town's name before it was renamed Fort Augustus after the Battle of Culloden). The intention was to rehouse it in the Lovat's church in Glen Covinth near Beauly. Campbell's books relates how the bell was "sacrificed" as an offering to the spirit of the lake, which I would take to be the Loch Ness Each Uisge.

Now, the location of the holy bell is unknown and yet we are told the loch waters above it have healing powers. You just need to know where! The reference to Aneurin Bevan brings us down to earth as he was the then architect of the National Health Service (another religion of the British people).

However, Campbell speculates from the Wardlaw Manuscript in suggesting the bell may have been deposited at or near Ellanwirrich or Cherry Island as it is now called. But, using my previously calculated silt deposition rate of 4mm per annum suggests the bell is now under a metre of silt. One would presume that, if it exists at all, it is not going to be found anytime soon.

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  1. That's an interesting story. I remember one regarding a bell from an abbey, sunk to prevent it from invading forces, near where I grew up.
    Unrelated, but yet related, is that I saw something recently that talked about DNA analysis getting so good that an unknown animal's presence in a lake should be picked up, if it was alive or dead. Although this is obviously depending on population of animals, temperature, water volume etc. The other aspect is, what would the powers that be do if they found this information?

    1. Yes, I have commented on this before and wondered if it was worth doing eDNA at Loch Ness considering the vastness of the loch and the relative low biomass of a Nessie population.

      It would probably be better to perform the analysis on sample from the silt rather than open water IMO.

    2. The task may be almost as big as trying to find said bell.

  2. "Drawn and drunk"? From Loch Ness? If you have not found the correct spot I imagine the water drawn will cause, not cure, many ills..

  3. The alleged submerged traction engines are interesting, any sources for the rumours ? I suppose accidents do happen especially working on the areas where the road has been blasted out of the rocky slopes high above the loch surface.