Wednesday 9 January 2013

Loch Ness Monster Symposium April 2013

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the first sighting of the modern age of the Loch Ness Monster and to mark this milestone a symposium is to be held in the city of Edinburgh on the 6th of April 2013. A variety of speakers have been lined up to talk on various aspects of this enduring story ending with a panel discussion on what the Loch Ness Monster is and is not. The speaker roster is below and the official website is here and if this is not yet up and running try the website of co-organise Gordon Rutter at this link.
Adrian Shine - The biology of Loch Ness and an overview of geography.
Roland Watson - The pre-1933 history of Loch Ness Monster and its folklore.
Paul Harrison - Loch Ness Monster History 1933-1971.
Tony Harmsworth - Loch Ness 1972 to present.
David Martin-Jones - Nessie on Film.
Charles Paxton - Statistical analysis of eyewitness reports.
Gordon Rutter - Photographic evidence of the Loch Ness monster.
Panel Discussion - Hypotheses for the Loch Ness monster: different explanations for the Loch Ness monster as both a non-monstrous and monstrous phenomena: (panel includes Adrian Shine, Paul Harrison, Steuart Campbell and Roland Watson).

The event will be sponsored by Kraken Rum and will be run under the umbrella of the Edinburgh International Science Festival which runs from the 23rd March to the 7th April. The venue will be The Counting House and further details of the event can be found again at the aforementioned websites.

Ticket purchase is essential to attend. To buy tickets, send a paypal transfer to co-organiser Charles Paxton ( for £20 – no physical tickets will be issued but the printed Paypal receipt on the day we be matched to the attendee list.

While we are on the subject of Loch Ness Monster symposiums, I would say this is the fourth event to bear that title.  The word "symposium" itself comes from the Greek word for a drinking party which seems appropriate considering the event is sponsored by a rum manufacturer and some form of alcohol will no doubt flow later. These ancient events would be held to debate, recite or celebrate events or works. I guess the drink lubricated the smooth running of the event and the "symposiarch" would decide on the strength of the drink served up depending on the type of event. Who will have that task in April is uncertain!

As far as Nessie is concerned the most famous symposium was the one that never happened in 1975. The word was out that Robert Rines and his team had got close up head, neck and body pictures of the creatures and various people from scientific and academic backgrounds were to be invited to a symposium in Edinburgh under the chairmanship of Sir Peter Scott and the sponsorship of the Royal Society to discuss these images.

Unfortunately, the media interest began to move into hyperdrive and it was felt it was not possible to conduct such a gathering in the midst of such clamour and it was cancelled. The pictures were finally shown to the world at a meeting in the Houses of Parliament to a varied audience. I remember it well and the press description of the body and long neck as looking like "bagpipes in a snowstorm"!

Personally, I like the look of the body-neck picture as evidence but the gargoyle head never struck me as being in accord with eyewitness descriptions of a small head that was almost a continuation of the neck.

After that, the first real and best symposium was held at the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh on July 25th 1987 which was organised by the Society for the History of Natural History and the International Society for Cryptozoology. The proceedings of the meeting were published in two parts in the centenary edition of the Scottish Naturalist and contained contributions from various leading lights of the Loch Ness mystery including Tim Dinsdale, Henry Bauer, Adrian Shine, Roy Mackal and Robert Rines.

But it was not for another twelve years that the next symposium was held at Loch Ness itself. This was held on the 10th July 1999 at the Drumnadrochit Hotel and was hosted by Gary Campbell of the Loch Ness Monster Fan Club. the speakers over that weekend were Gary Campbell, Loren Coleman, Henry Bauer, Gordon Rutter (who is co-organising this latest event) and Ian Cameron (witness to a famous sighting in 1965). An article from the BBC news website of the time is at the end of this article (original link).

Unlike the other symposiums, this one has a distinct local flavour as all the speakers reside within Scotland. However, no such restriction applies to the audience, so all are welcome in April if they can make it - and get one of those limited tickets!

I will be speaking on the pre-Nessie era of the Loch Ness Monster (prior to 1933) and will be drawing on the research that produced my book "The Water Horses of Loch Ness", but expect some new material as well!

Nessie hosts hunters

The shores of Loch Ness play host this weekend to a major gathering of monster hunters from around the world. 

Delegates from as far afield as Japan are flying to Scotland for Saturday's first formal gathering of Nessie hunters. 

One of the most controversial debates will be on the famous - or infamous - Nessie photograph that became known as The Surgeon's Picture.

This classic image taken in 1934, showing what appeared to be a long serpent-like neck and head coming out of the water, was later proved to be a hoax.

But respected US cryptozoology researcher Richard Smith will argue that the evidence used to prove the alleged hoax may be flawed. 

Gary Campbell, President of the Inverness-based Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club said: "It should lead to a lively discussion. 

"Richard's findings don't agree with the analysis carried out in 1994 so it might be that the surgeon's photo was real all along." They are complemented by Edinburgh based zoologist Gordon Rutter and retired Highland detective Ian Cameron, who witnessed the longest Nessie sighting on record. 
 The conference, "Loch Ness 1999, an International Cryptozoology Symposium", aims to find a new way forward in the search for creatures like the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti. 

Mr Campbell added: "I am delighted at the numbers coming for the conference. We have delegates attending from all over the world as well as a good turn out of local people as well." 

Delegates will hear from top US Bigfoot author Loren Coleman and Professor Henry Bauer or Virginia State University.