Saturday 22 January 2011

Classic Sightings - Marjory Moir

Date: October 12th-15th 1936
Time: afternoon
Location: Three miles north of Foyers
Witnesses: Mrs. Marjory Moir and four others.
Type of sighting: Head, neck and back in water

The first classic sighting I posted here a few months back was the Spicer's controversial land sighting which generated quite a debate on forums which picked up on the posting. Let's hope this one generates less heat!

Marjory Moir and her family were witness to one of the best sightings of the monster having a clear view of it for some minutes. It is a classic sigthing by all accounts. The sighting was first reported in the 17th October edition of the Inverness Courier which stated that the:

Loch Ness Monster seen by a party of ladies near Abriachan last week. Mrs
Marjory Moir, her sister Miss Fraser, & Mrs Grant, Ardlarich, Culduthel Road,
who was driving. Three humps were seen moving at great speed ...

The account was subsquently reported in the national Scotsman paper nine days later.

After the frenzy of the 1930s, her sighting was documented in Constance Whyte's More Than A Legend after she wrote to the author in April 1955. Evidently, Whyte and Moir were on first name terms as local residents because she states that she had related the tale to Mrs. Whyte often.

Five years later as Tim Dinsdale was writing his book, she wrote again (presumably in answer to a letter from Dinsdale) and I reproduce that letter below:

One October afternoon a friend took my sister, mother-in-law, my young daughter and myself for a little trip by car to Foyers. On the return journey, at a place where the road runs very close to the loch, about three miles from Foyers, my sister suddenly shouted, 'Look, there's the Monster'. We all got out of the car and ran to the water's edge. There, before us, at a distance of one third the width of the loch away from us, was this wonderful creature. It was a perfect view, if we had a camera the most convincing picture of the Monster ever taken could have been obtained, but alas! we had neither camera nor binoculars.

The sky was grey, the loch was grey and the silhouette of the creature was a very dark grey against the lighter background. A perfect setting. There were three distinct humps, a long slender neck ending in a small head, and the overall length appeared to me thirty feet approximately. I could see no details of eyes, mouth, etc. but the outline was all beautifully clear — the three humps, head and neck — (I shall enclose a sketch for you). The middle hump was the highest, the one behind the neck the smallest, and the in-between size was at the back, sloping in a graceful line down to, and under, the water. The creature was quite stationary, and often dipped its head into the water, either feeding or amusing itself.

We watched in awe and amazement, for about 5-8 minutes; then suddenly it swung round away from the shore, and shot across the loch at a terrific speed, putting up a wash exactly similar to that I saw in your film. All the time I could see a small dark spot, perhaps the highest hump, perhaps the head. When it eventually came to rest I noticed the humps had disappeared; the back was now more or less straightened out, but the neck and head were as before. The creature was in full view for 14 minutes. I have no idea how much of the body was underneath the water, but what we saw was a huge creature, evidently very powerful, graceful and quite at ease on and in the water. A thrilling experience — I actually saw the Loch Ness Monster, resting, and travelling at speed, I saw the humps, then the straightened out back, my 'Water Horse' in truth at last.

You can now — I hope — understand why your film was of such absorbing interest to me, so much in it was exactly what I saw and remember so vividly. One more thing — the composite picture shown at the end of your film was the same in every detail as the Monster I saw in October, 1936, even to the approximate length.

Quite a sighting by any measure especially with the creature in view for a full 14 minutes - a virtual eternity for the monster. The drawing she sent was reproduced in Dinsdale's book and is shown below.

Comparing the two letters there is not much difference between them. However, the Whyte letter says that after speeding towards Urquhart Castle it returned to the same spot it had first been sighted. One other difference is that the Dinsdale letter implies that the three humps had straightened out as if the back was flexible whereas the Whyte letter merely says the humps were not so much in evidence.

The Courier article however gets it wrong in saying the witnesses were near Abriachan which is on the opposite side of the loch. Sometimes reporters don't transmit everything perfectly ...

The other thing I like about this case is that it involves five women which I think adds to the authenticity of the sighting. In fact, let's face it, every Nessie hoax ever perpetrated was done by men. Women may not be perfect either, but when it comes to the Loch Ness Monster, they are untainted!

In fact, this sighting is not easy to debunk. Waves don't speed across the loch and return to where they begun - even the newly discovered underwater waves called the seiche could not do this to a log which just happened to look like three humps and a long neck. This is stretching things further than Nessie's neck!

Nothing seems to fit unless we fall back on the tired explanations of birds, otters which are somehow were warped into 30 foot monsters. In these days of skepticism, it is easy to lose sight of these classic sightings and the persuasive power of them. We read books which go through some sightings likely to have doubts about them, a somewhat plausible (but not probable) explanation is given and it is then stated generally that all Nessie sightings can be explained like this.

One should not be fooled by this logical fallacy. If one sighting is allegedly explained away, it does not follow that the rest automatically follow. As it happens, none of the books on Nessie which are skeptical of a new, unclassified creature mention the Moir sighting.

Perhaps it was a case too hard to crack for them.


  1. Hello, got your comments which are great about Marjory. I would like to reproduce them as an article, you could email me at for permission/format/etc.

  2. It certainly is a tough one for the sceptics to tackle as it sounds like nothing other than a sighting of an as yet unknown animal. Or a hoax.
    Excellent article from a different era.