Wednesday 19 October 2016

So many Books, So little Time ...

Three books on the Loch Ness Monster published in the space of two months. I don't know if that is a record, but that is close on one thousand pages to get through. No need to rush through them, I like to savour a good Nessie book.

You will have noticed the odd one out at the right. It is an oldie but a goodie entitled "Loch Ness and its Monster" by J. A. Carruth. It went through various reprints, of which I have most of them. The edition I had just purchased was the third one of 1950. The first edition came out in 1938, making it the sixth book to be published on the monster. By 1971, it had gone through nine editions.

Carruth was a priest and monk at Fort Augustus Abbey and, like various brothers at the abbey, took a keen interest in the monster that had turned up on their shoreline. His photograph is shown below. The output of his particular interest was this booklet that sold at the Abbey bookshop and no doubt elsewhere.

The booklet itself is not remarkable by the standards of the literature as its aim was to be an introductory text aimed at the tourist market. In fact, the Abbey monks had previously attempted this with the publication of a similar booklet, "The Mysterious Monster of Loch Ness" in 1934. Being a booklet of about 23 pages, it covers the facts about the loch and argues that the creature is a native of the loch, quoting the well known story of St. Columba and goes through some eye witness accounts.

We learn a bit more about Fr. Carruth when David Cooke interviewed him for his 1969 book, "The Great Monster Hunt". At the time, Carruth was the Abbey tour guide, but took time out to speak to Cooke. He spoke of his thirty plus years by the loch studying the phenomenon and talking to many people who claimed to have seen it.

Actually, when you read Cooke's conversation with Carruth, it is almost verbatim lifted from Carruth's booklet; which makes me think Cooke just quoted it or Carruth knew his booklet very well indeed! 

However, Carruth expanded on his own sighting in 1962. It was an early morning sighting from the Abbey and was the classic upturned boat shape moving away from him. It was black and bigger than any boat he had seen in the loch. He said his sighting "really wasn't very much" but I am sure plenty of us would settle for such an experience! (note that Carruth's brother, Edmund, was also a monk at the Abbey and had a couple of sightings to his name)

Carruth was also a good friend of Tim Dinsdale, who met him at the Abbey on his very first visit to Loch Ness in 1960. In fact, arch-sceptic, Ronald Binns, plunges deep into Loch Speculation, by suggesting that Dinsdale meeting such "hierophants" as Carruth only heightened his expectation of seeing "monsters".

Carruth was one of the enduring characters of the Loch Ness Monster who is present from its beginnings in 1933 right through to its peak decades in the 1960s and 70s. The Abbey is closed now and its monks dispersed. Monster hunters and sceptics come and go, but the Monster itself will outlast them all.

The author can be contacted at


  1. Any information on the middle two books?


  2. Opps! I put this on an outdatated page Sorry guys ... and dames. Hello everybody! I'm back. For those of you who remember me, salutations. It's been a long sabbatical since I last made a comment here. I went looking for Bigfoot, UFOs, Mokele-mbembe... nothing there. ..I think. All kidding aside. I have just returned from a trip to Spokane WA. Visiting a good friend, F-4 Phantom jock from the Vietnam era. I am back with a vengeance to defend Nessie's honor. Prepare yourselves for some more outrages and outlandish comments. I am loaded for bear! Bring it on, you Nessie haters!

  3. So many books. Who has time to read them.