Showing posts sorted by relevance for query wetherell. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query wetherell. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

The Mystery of the Three Toed Cast




In a previous post, I went over a 1934 sceptical appraisal of the then new Loch Ness Monster phenomenon. There was an excerpt from that article which I held back for this piece concerning the Arthur Grant land sighting:


The Daily Mail, with customary enterprise, sent investigators. These included a big-game hunter. who eventually found two impressions of a large foot upon the shore. Photographs and a cast of these were submitted to the museum, where the impressions were found to have been made on a heaped-up bank of fine shingle with the help of a stuffed foot of a hippopotamus. A wag had been busy - had he used a living hippopotamus the impression would have been different and the big game hunter would not have been deceived.

On the other side of the loch the animal which bounded across the road, described above, left a trail. In that trail was an obscure footprint of which a cast was also made. At the museum it was found that this footprint was also the work of a joker - but this time he used the mounted foot of a rhinoceros.

Now I covered the matter of the Arthur Grant case and tracks found on the shore in my book, "When Monsters Come Ashore". Until recently I was aware of these "rhinoceros" tracks that had been found, but I did not connect them with the Grant story and assumed they were related to the Marmaduke Wetherell tracks found on the remote shoreline between Foyers and Fort Augustus. The plaster casts  taken from the Grant site were sent again to the Natural History Museum, but now it transpires these were identified as rhinoceros as opposed to the infamous "hippo" tracks which were created using Wetherell's ashtray.



The question before us is whether these tracks were another Wetherell hoax or something entirely different? The main point being that a hippopotamus is four toed as opposed to the rhinoceros which is three toed, therefore it is unlikely that Marmaduke Wetherell's four toed ashtray would have produced such a three toed track. Indeed, if one examines the sketch done by Arthur Grant at the top of this page, there is a hint of a three toed rear limb in the bottom right of the picture.

What could be going on here? In pursuit of an answer, I consulted Boyd and Martin's expose of the Surgeon's Photograph which goes into more detail than any on the matter of Marmaduke Wetherell and the fake spoors. Firstly it has to be noted that the authors are dubious of any land sightings when on page 31 we have this general quote: "Alleged land sightings must be regarded with some doubt."

Bearing that in mind, it is no surprise that doubt is then cast by them on the whole affair by suggesting that Grant and Wetherell colluded to produce a sensational story, tracks and all. No proof is produced for this opinion other than the alleged phone call Grant is said to have made to parties unknown at that time - an accusation which has its own problems and is covered in my book on land sightings. Laying that aside, the proposed scenario would have Wetherell producing yet more tracks to fool the Daily Mail and the general public.

The sequence of events may even be used in support of such a conspiracy theory when we consider that the Natural History Museum announced their analysis of the hippo plaster casts on Wednesday the 3rd January 1934, the story made the newspapers on the 4th January and the Grant sighting occurred the very next day on Friday the 5th. Was this sequence of events designed to deceive? There are some problems with this conspiracy theory.

Firstly, why would Marmaduke Wetherell even do such a thing? The Natural History Museum had correctly identified the species of the first set of tracks and rightly put it down to a hoaxer. If Wetherell employed some form of rhinoceros spoor, the result was going to be inevitable when the second plaster casts arrived in South Kensington, London. Why risk a second embarrassment to your reputation as a big game hunter and cause further irritation to your client, the Daily Mail?

Secondly, if for whatever reason, Wetherell decided upon the January 3rd declaration by the Museum that yet another hoax was required, he had little time to organise it. It would demand that a co-conspirator be found and a location, plan and setting of fake tracks be done by the early hours of the 5th giving a day and a half or 36 hours in total. There is no evidence Wetherell and Grant had met before the 5th of January, none at all and so the whole idea really boils down to not empirical evidence, but whether one's bias wishes the whole theory to be true or not.

Thirdly, there is no evidence that Marmaduke Wetherell even owned such a rhinoceros foot. I contacted Marmaduke's grandson, who featured in Boyd and Martin's book and asked him if he recalled his grandfather ever owning such an item. His reply was that he only recalled the hippo foot ashtray. So, on the face of it, Marmaduke Wetherell had nothing to produce his three toed tracks with.

Now it has to be pointed out that Wetherell got away with his fake hippo tracks by hiding the hoax tool in plain sight. Marmaduke was a chain smoker and it would be natural to bring along his hippo foot ashtray while he was at the loch investigating the monster. It was a perfectly innocent item put to a more sinister use and one can only carry so many items around without arousing suspicion. So, in the absence of compelling evidence, let us assume that Marmaduke Wetherell had nothing to do with the creation of these tracks.

Indeed, it transpires that another set of three toed tracks were found days before the Grant affair but before the public announcement from the Natural History Museum. The relevant text is from the Edinburgh Evening News, 1st January 1934 which is reproduced below.




The story here is that after the discovery of Wetherell's four toed tracks, a discovery was made of what appeared to be three toed tracks on the opposite side of the loch. Where this exactly happened is not clear, but my guess is somewhere south of Invermoriston. This is also stated as a location near where the creature is alleged "to have crossed the road". Quite what report this is referring to is also not clear to me.

I have no record of land sightings in that vicinity in the months leading up to the end of 1933. The nearest in time was a report by a Mrs Reid in December, but this happened on the other side of the loch. The nearest by location was by a David Stewart back in May of that year just up the road by the Altsigh Burn who saw a grey coloured creature with a long neck come out of the bushes and disappear into the loch.

But the main point is that another three toed incident happened almost a week before Arthur Grant had his encounter and this was reported as discovered, not by Wetherell, but by a Fort Augustus "official". Should we presume that Wetherell was the instigator of not one but three hoaxes? I think that would indeed be presumptuous as the probability of conspiracy decreases as the size of the conspiracy increases.

As an aside, some looking to tar and feather Nessie personalities old and new may suggest the unknown Fort Augustus official was Alex Campbell. After all, he lived in Fort Augustus, as water bailiff he was a government employee and (as they claim), he was up for a bit of hoaxing. Needless to say, there is not a shred of evidence for this theory. Various other people could be officials (canal managers, police and local politicians) and in my years of scouring the literature, I have never read of Campbell relating this story.

So, are these tracks the real deal?

Of course, there is no way of telling for sure. Others may invoke Grant as the sole perpetrator or some other unknown third party, it is pure speculation and I think I will join in this speculation party but take the opposing side. What does a rhinoceros spoor actually look like? The zoologist does not say what type of rhino they decided upon, so I will assume the most common species of rhino which is the White Rhinoceros of Africa. A look around Google Images gave this example track and it is stated that a typical track is 29cm by 28cm in dimensions.




Clearly these look quite different to the hippo spoor from across the loch shown above. The problem is we do not precisely know what those 1934 plaster casts looked like and so we can only go with the museum's closest approximation to the white rhino. I would also note another mystery in that the second group to visit the site led by A.F. Hay measured the tracks at 24 inches (61cm) long from toe to heel, 38 inches (96cm) cross from right toe to left, and 30 inches (76cm) from heel to heel which is more than double the normal dimensions of a rhino track! So what gives here? Did the Museum err too much on the the assumption this was another game animal or did Hay over-estimate the size of the tracks or were these different but better formed tracks from the site? I suspect the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

I would note that a three toed track is not something unique to this story. In fact of the eleven land accounts that describe the forelimbs, two (18%) mention three toes and these are E.H. Bright from 1880 and Donald MacKinnon from 1979. Other instances of three toad tracks have been claimed elsewhere in the lake monster literature. These include a Robert Duff at Loch Morar on the 8th July 1969 as well as one found at Lake Okanagan (as related by Mark Chorvinsky).

To this we can add the 1948 tracks in the River Nith in Ontario (Lake Monsters and Sea Monsters - An Atlas and History), Huilla of Trinidad and Tobago (in "Water Monsters South of the Border"), Lake Tarpon (People Are Seeing Something), the Natal coast and White River (both in Dragons by Richard Freeman). However, one must not discount hoaxes, such as the Florida case related here.

It was probably a futile gesture since many monster hunters before me must have tried to track down these plaster casts without any apparent success. But I emailed the Natural History Museum archives department and they confirmed that they had no such items. That is no surprise as I assumed they would be returned to the owners. That Marmaduke Wetherell owned and then discarded the hippo casts once they had fulfilled their purpose is one likely outcome. But if the "rhino" tracks were not Wetherell fakes, how would they have been treated and by whom?

Plaster casts from the 1930s can easily survive to this day with proper storage, but frustratingly and nearly 85 years on, this potentially unique cast of the Loch Ness Monster is not likely to be with us today. Perhaps the answer lies with Arthur Grant's descendants.

I end this piece with a delightful poem penned by "glorat" extolling the mystery of the three toed monster, which was published in the Falkirk Herald dated 17th March 1934.




The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com


Monday, 23 August 2010

The Motives of Marmaduke Wetherell

There is one aspect of the Surgeon's Photo Hoax theory that has always puzzled me and that was motive.

If we go back to the 1975 newspaper clipping that started Alastair Boyd's investigation we get an insight into why it is alleged that Marmaduke Wetherell faked the photograph. According to his son Ian in that clipping, the Daily Mail had gone cold on Wetherell's expedition and had dropped it much to his father's chagrin.

In response to this, Ian quotes his father as saying "All right, we'll give them their monster". This was all meant to set in train a chain of events leading to the pictures being offered to the Daily Mail via the link man Kenneth Wilson.

All perfectly plausible, but wasn't something meant to happen next? You get the cold shoulder from the Daily Mail, you fake a photograph and sell it to them, they get the media sensation of 1934 and the rights to the iconic image of Nessie for decades to come. Was that the intention of Marmaduke Wetherell? Did he plan to give the Daily Mail the glory of the best picture of Nessie ever?

Somehow I do not think so.

I don't read in the Boyd/Martin book what Wetherell planned to do once the picture was published but it is not hard to guess. The most reasonable explanation for all of this was revenge. He would fake the picture, wait until the Mail was basking in the glory of it and then expose the picture to a rival newspaper. Thus the Mail is jeered across the nation and Wetherell dies a happy man.

Quite clearly this did not happen and I am not the first to question the whole alleged motive because of this. If Wetherell did not follow through on his plan - then was there ever a plan? Now at this point we again enter the realms of speculation because all the main protagonists in this story are dead. When an explanation is offered for something (i.e. the photo was faked for revenge) but these discrepancies appear then the supporters of said theory are obliged to come up with some explanation even though it may not be the probable one.

So why didn't Wetherell apply the Coup De Grace? Why did he snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory? He died in 1939 so that gave him about 5 years to finish the execution of the plot but in my opinion the best time to strike was when the iron was hot and the picture was experiencing high publicity in 1934.

So what could have gone wrong for Wetherell?

1. Did he perhaps approach rival newspapers but they refused to take the bait? Hardly likely considering the ribbing other papers gave the Mail over the hippo tracks Wetherell "found" (see Boyd/Martin book).

2. Had he perhaps intended Wilson to come clean but then the good doctor got cold feet? Possibly, but why not then do it himself or one of the other plotters such as Chambers? Surely our intrepid game hunter would not let the prey escape so easily?

3. Was he perhaps afraid of his reputation being panned if he declared himself? So why didn't he confess when he knew he was dying of cancer with nothing to lose?

Whatever explanation is conjured out of the air, this is another question mark will hang over this story. The motive was revenge but revenge was not applied despite Wetherell's great desire to do so. It is all rather like watching a movie where the plot is going along well but at the very end the crooks don't get caught or the lovers do not live happily ever after.



And while we are on the subject of that 1975 newspaper article there was one or two points made in it that made me think. The relevant text is this:

"Then it was just a matter of winding up the sub and getting it to dive just below the surface so the neck and head drew a proper little V in the water. I took about five shots with the Leica, then suddenly a water bailiff turned up. I suppose he had heard voices and thought we were fishing. Dad put his foot on the monster and sank it, and that was that."

Now this matter of trying to produce a V-wake is contradicted by the actual photograph above which evidently shows a stationary object with no wake and rather a concentric ripple around it indicating the opposite.

Furthermore, we are told by Ian who was actually claimed to be there (as opposed to Spurling who allegedly made the model but did not go to Loch Ness) that the whole session did not last hours but was interrupted in which time five shots were taken as the submarine went "just below the surface". Why is this important? Because it makes no space for that troublesome second Surgeon's photograph to be taken. Again, that photo is unaccountable by this hoax theory.

Do I have any conclusion regarding the whole matter? There are inconsistencies in the story which a good lawyer could get an open verdict on if there was a "Nessie Inquest". I won't say Christian Spurling and Ian Wetherell were lying but neither could I say they were truthful. There are questions which leave me asking questions but I would have to find a real motive for why they lied. I won't pursue that line for now but neither will I let the matter lie there.

For now, digest these thought on my blog of the last weeks and draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Back to the Surgeon's Photograph




It is time to look over some recent debate on this photograph and perhaps some new information that leads to the true location of the picture. It is the most iconic photograph that purports to be of the Loch Ness Monster and it just about features in every documentary or major article devoted to the monster. Since 1994 and the publication of "Nessie: The Surgeon's Photo Exposed" by Alistair Boyd and Dave Martin, it concluded that the photo was a hoax perpetrated by big game hunter. Duke Wetherell, his family and associates in revenge for how the Daily Mail handled his expedition.

Most have accepted that theory but others have not and scrutinized the hoax story suspecting it is a hoax itself. I must admit, having read the book, that I side with its evidence and reasoning, but I always keep an eye open for any thinking on the matter. So, well known cryptozoologist, Karl Shuker, recently posted his thoughts on why the Boyd-Martin hoax theory should be treated with suspicion. His article is here.

He has various things to say in his long article, but there are some main points which are worthy of discussion here. The first is his objection that there is no evidence that the submarine toy used to mount the plastic wood monster neck was ever used. No photos of it, written notes of the time or pieces of the contrivance. I agree with him, there is absolutely nothing of that kind to back up what Wetherell's stepson, Christian Spurling, said about his monster model. You basically either accept it or reject it.

That the components for such a hoax were available at the time is not disputed or perhaps even the engineering to make such an item float in the water (though Karl is not totally convinced of that without a demonstration). I myself do not doubt that the model would float, I am not so sure they could make it submerge with that long neck attached, but I am also not sure it had to. In this case, I am quite happy to accept such a model could be constructed and accomplish its task, unless someone can provide evidence to the contrary.

Karl also has doubts about how the model would look in a photo at Loch Ness and thinks the item looks further out than is suggested in the hoax account, perhaps too far to wade out. That is a difficult thing to establish without knowing where the actual location was. Robert Wilson's statement that it was somewhere near the Altsigh Burn is nigh on impossible to prove. However, Boyd and Martin conducted their own experiment with their own model which established that a similar photograph with similar foreground and background could be done from only a few metres from shore.

That may sound like deep water, but you can walk out on level ground in the water for such a distance before the ground begins to worryingly recede from you at the loch. The original uncropped Surgeon's Photograph and the Alastair Boyd experiment are shown below (original first) and you can see the similarities. There is one caveat to these, Boyd said he had to crop his picture to match the original one.

Since he thinks Wilson's accomplice, Maurice Chambers, transferred from a Leica 50mm film to a quarter plate, he thinks this involved cropping as well. Though why he says the top was cropped and not the bottom is not made clear. Apart from that,  I do not think the way the Wilson picture presents itself poses any issues. The only quibble is how different the two cameras sixty years apart were, which could present different results for the same view.




WITNESS ACCOUNTS

But let us move on the main contentious issue of divergent testimonies. There are at least three people testifying that the photograph was faked. The first was Ian Wetherell, son of Marmaduke, who confessed to his participation in an article written by Sunday Telegraph columnist Philip Purser on 7th December 1975. He said he went up with his father and Maurice Chambers to stage the shoot. Ian himself took the pictures and Chambers took the pictures to be developed. However, the article was largely ignored and lost in the noise of the anticipation of the Rines underwater pictures.

The second is the star witness and step-brother of Ian, Christian Spurling who was interviewed by David Martin in 1991 and subsequently by Alistair Boyd. Some of the interviews were recorded but, to my knowledge, have not been made publicly available in any form. Spurling died shortly after in 1993. He said he did not go to the loch and manufactured his hybrid monster-submarine for the Wetherells at his home in Twickenham, London.

The third witness was a Major Norman Egginton, a colleague of Robert Wilson, who wrote to Nicholas Witchell in 1970 claiming that Wilson had boasted of his involvement in the hoax. This letter constituted quite an amazing coincidence as Witchell had merely written to a bookshop seeking some Loch Ness Monster titles. One of the bookshop directors was Egginton who opened up to Witchell how Wilson had confessed all in 1940 to him and two others. Why Witchell ignored this letter in his subsequent book on the monster is not clear, did he doubt Egginton or was this an inconvenient story?

Now the problem is that these three witnesses do not deliver testimonies that are in complete harmony with what is known and this forms a major basis for objections to the hoax theory.

  • Wetherell and Spurling disagree on the material for the neck. Ian said rubber tubing while Spurling said plastic wood.
  • Both of them agree that the photo is a model but Egginton claims Wilson said it was a monster cut out superimposed on an empty photo of the loch.
  • Ian Wetherell says Chambers handled the development of the pictures while Robert Wilson (the "surgeon") himself said he took the plates to a chemist in Inverness.
  • Ian Wetherell claimed they shot the model moving to create a V-wake but the photo evidently shows a stationary object.
  • Ian Wetherell stated the model neck was a few inches high while Spurling said it was a foot high.

Now let us get onto the general subject of contradictions between witness testimonies as this is not an unfamiliar subject to myself and other researchers on the subject of the Loch Ness Monster. By way of example, a recent case I looked at from September 1933 concerned multiple eyewitnesses to a large creature seen in the loch. That article is here and once read you will note that despite looking at the same object, the eyewitnesses drew and described a creature that was not quite the same. 

Does this mean their accounts are not to be regarded as honest and trustworthy? Of course not, and one will find these degrees of inconsistency throughout the literature where imperfect humans are involved. This leads us into the issue of how to handle parallel stories as one should not just receive them all as acceptable just because people make mistakes. Some people do not make mistakes - they tell lies.

To my mind, there are different levels of inconsistency that exist. The first is a person's testimony which is at variance with empirical facts. For example, they may state that it was a fine, sunny day on the date in question whereas the weather report states it rained all day or they stated a person they met later was named John Smith where in fact it was Reginald Perrin.

The second instance is where a person's testimony is at variance with themselves in what the person recounts at another time. The other accounts may not be related entirely to the first account, but may contain elements which pose a contradiction to the other. For example, the person may state they were at a certain place at a certain time, but in another text they state they were somewhere else.

Finally, there are the testimonies of multiple people which are at variance with each other in the whole or the part. The multiple testimonies of Wetherell, Spurling and Egginton being the prime example here and we also mentioned the group who saw the monster in 1933.

Now in my estimation, when assessing claimed events, these three levels are ranked in importance. So the first level poses more problems for a story than the second. Likewise, the second poses more problems for it than the third. I say that because it is more likely for separate minds to produce disharmony than one mind and if a story does not line up with reality, there is little hope for it (unless in our example, the witness got the dates wrong).

So, it is really down to one's tolerance levels as regards inconsistencies. I tolerate the inconsistencies in group accounts because we are not perfect recording machines, but if the inconsistencies become too great, a judgement call has to be made. When that call is made is different for all of us depending on our levels of reasoning, prejudice and how much data is at one's disposal.

So what about Wetherell, Spurling and Egginton? In the case of rubber tubing and plastic wood, we assume Spurling is right as he used the material and Wetherell never asked him and guessed it was rubber when he inspected the submarine at the loch.

Egginton has Wilson stating it was a photographic overlay which makes one wonder how much Wilson was in on the details of the creation of the photo as his role was to hand in the final negatives to the chemist in Inverness and repeat the story given to him? There is a degree of compartmentalization amongst the participants in this story.

The discrepancy between Chambers developing the pictures or Wilson may be explained by Chambers (said to be a keen amateur photographer) developing the originals, checking they were up to the job and rephotographing them for development by Wilson in Inverness. Here we have two distinct but separate developments processes. 

The V-wake versus stationary object is on the face of it not resolvable. Either Wetherell made it up or he had an imperfect recall of events 41 years on and the same goes for the few versus twelve inches for the neck. Spurling must be more likely correct as he made it and Wetherell is again making it up or not recalling properly. Make up your own mind on these and weigh the pros against the cons.

However, there is no reason why someone (like Karl Shuker) should not stick to these objections as a basis for doubting the story behind the hoax. As Karl says, this may not preclude any hoax, but it would preclude this particular hoax story concerning a toy submarine and a moulded head-neck.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the main reason for me why it is true is because three or more people have come forward claiming either direct participation in the hoax or hearing a confession to the deed. Despite the problems with points of testimony, this counts more for me than the finer details. If one person came forward and claimed they did it, I would be dubious about it. If they came forward, not claiming participation, but heard a confession, I would be even more dubious. But these three are separated in time and space. Egginton did not appear to know Wetherell or Spurling and Wetherell had died some years before Boyd and Martin met Spurling, so no chance of collusion or preparation.

That is the way I see it and that leaves us with the issue of the second photograph which is raised in objections to the hoax story. This is not a contradiction per se as no witness mentions it. To be frank, this doesn't surprise me as it never entered the public view until Constance Whyte published it in 1957, and even then, I am not sure it ever appeared in the newspapers.






Nevertheless, the photo exists and a satisfactory explanation for it, if one believes the main photo is a fake, is still beyond our grasp. The claimed differing head shape is not conclusive to me as it is a bit more blurred than the main one (see overlay above). The wave patterns are certainly different, indicating a sufficiently different time or place, unless a gust of wind opportunely came in to ruffle the waters. It is possible they are indeed pictures of the same object.

Boyd and Martin do not offer an explanation, but cast some doubt on the story of the chemist who developed the Wilson plates who claimed he kept the second photo after Wilson expressed no interest in it. Perhaps there is something there to explore, but currently there is no evidence to take it further and there we leave it.
 

ANOTHER LOOK AT THE PHOTOGRAPH

Moving on from the current arguments for and against the Wetherell hoax, I thought I would take another look at the photograph itself and see if there were any clues in it. And why not? There have been plenty of opinions given as to what is visible in the picture beyond the main subject. These range from wires to seagulls to monster limbs to second animals. That is on top of the general views that the main object of interest is a bird, an otter's tail, a branch and so on. I was once told eyewitness testimonies were subjective but photographs were objective. The truth is more likely to be somewhere in between for both cases.

Like the three witnesses to the hoax, there may be three "witnesses" to where the photo was actually taken. So, there are three observations I wish to make which I may class as speculative or even deductive, but not perhaps empirical. The first concerns waves. Below is an uncropped version of the photo and below I add lines to give a clearer view of where the waves are coming from. They are coming in at a slight angle from the left. I estimate (in the absence of a protractor) about 5 degrees from the horizontal.





Now the thing to point out about Loch Ness is that the prevailing wind is from the south west as low pressure fronts from the Atlantic come in rotating anti-clockwise and air currents are forced through the funnel of the Great Glen complex. As the waves that are pushed north east by these winds travel up the loch, the waves weaken as they bend into the two shores along the loch until they roll onto the shore in a parallel fashion. I believe the waves we see coming in from the left in the photo are those weakening waves.

What has this to do with the Wilson monster debate? If Robert Wilson was near Invermoriston on the northern shore as he said, the photo would have the south on its right and the north on its left. Therefore, the prevailing south westerly wind would be coming in on the right and so would the waves they are pushing along. The main reason that they would be coming in from the left is because the photo was taken from the opposite shore where the south is to the left.

Of course, that cannot be presented as a cast iron argument. Perhaps there was some unusual wave generation going on due to boats or a rarer weather front coming in from the east. Perhaps one could even argue the photo is inadvertently reversed. I would deem it unlikely it was boats as Ian Wetherell and his co-conspirators would have sought a place where there was no one else around. However, on the balance of probabilities, the normal prevailing wind is causing those waves.

Now let me move onto the second observation. If the hilltops on the opposite shore had been visible, there would have been a good chance of establishing the general vicinity of the picture. Unfortunately, the hilltops are cropped out and it would be no surprise that this was the intention of Maurice Chambers. But there is a feature present that may offer help. It is the white line on the upper left of the photo above. 



It doesn't look like a stream or the main road which would be largely flat along that stretch, so what is it? With this in mind, I began to search through old photos and postcards for a feature that would match this. I searched both sides of the loch in this case and the best feature I came upon is best shown in this postcard from the 1950s (click on the image to enlarge it). Notice the line heading up at angle on the opposite shore on the right of the postcard. This was taken from a vantage point high up near the village of Foyers which is to the left and out of sight in the postcard. The land feature on the near side of the loch is the spit of land surrounding the estuary of the River Foyers. The old aluminium works is beyond the bottom left near the shore.



This would imply the photo was taken from the shore nearest to Foyers, somewhere near where its river empties into the loch. As to what the feature on the opposite side is, it may be a logging road or something similar, but that is secondary to the fact it is there and a good match for the Wilson photo feature. Now, I could be wrong and someone may come up with some other feature on an old photo, but let us carry this a bit further. A modern satellite picture shows the feature on the left (marked A) starting at the loch and rising into the hills.




Which leads me to the third and final observation. Ian Wetherell was quoted in the 1975 Mandrake article as saying:

We found an inlet where the tiny ripples would look like full size waves out on the loch.

If we draw a line across the loch from the track to Foyers where this feature would be to the left of the field of view, we do actually come to an inlet marked at B, one I have visited on many an occasion at the end of Foyers beach. Could this be the very location where the Surgeon's Photograph was taken those long years ago?


The proposed location obviously fits the prevailing waves theory I presented and it kind of fits in with what we know of the Wetherell expedition. When Marmaduke Wetherell was commissioned by the Daily Mail in December 1933, he started along the south shore going from Dores down to Fort Augustus, so he knew it was a quieter part of the loch and offered better spots to stage a later hoax with less likelihood of interference. In fact, Wetherell's infamous hippo tracks were made on a beach somewhere south of Foyers. Let us just say he was familiar with the area.

When the Wetherells headed to the loch with their toy monster weeks later, they sought that inlet to create the impression of a larger object. How that subplot panned out is not clear. There may be some others inlets around the Foyers river, but the further north you go, the closer you get to the busy aluminium works and the power station (though I suspect this happened on a Sunday). The fact that a water bailiff turned up (Alex Campbell?) suggests it was indeed near the river where anglers are more likely to fish and perhaps closer to April than January as the fishing season ramps up.

All speculation, of course, but food for thought. Eighty seven years on, I camp by the River Foyers once or twice a year and walk along that stretch of beach to its very south end, watching the loch, enjoying the views, contemplating various things. Could it be that yards away, the minuscule remains of a toy submarine with a plastic wood neck now lie amongst the rocks and pebbles, beyond detection but still causing a controversy which echoes down the decades even unto this day?


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com




Saturday, 2 June 2012

Nessie on Land: Making an Impression

Moving on from our overview of Loch Ness Monster Land Sightings, we have an aspect of these cases which turns up now and again and is best exemplified by the one case ascribed to the late monster hunter, Ted Holiday in 1962.  We take up the story in his own words from his book, "The Great Orm of Loch Ness" (p.11 1st Ed).

Passing the stony beach I moved on to prospect the wooded shore beyond Inverfarigaig which is hard to reach and seldom visited. A black fir-wood led down to a tract of bracken which ended in a beach. It was narrow, steeply-angled and overgrown with saplings. I examined this beach for some distance in both directions but the only organic object discovered was the drowned carcass of a wildcat. However, at one spot there was a curious patch of bent and broken bushes several yards wide beside the water for which it was hard to think of an obvious explanation. Years later, I learned that local people do occasionally find these patches and they associate them with the Orm.


The "Orm" was Holiday's own name for Nessie. The maps below shows the houses of Inverfarigaig and the circle is where I think Ted Holiday's beach was (I take "beyond Inverfarigaig" to mean west towards the shore and not south on the road). Though it may not be the only candidate it certainly is out of the way of the main road and looks hard to get to. Some may think the locals were pulling Ted's leg but whatever you think of this story, it stands to reason that if the Loch Ness Monster takes to land then it is going to leave evidence of its journey.





Therein lies an opportunity for research, albeit a very rare one. But what is the opportunity and how does one know they are looking at it? Several of our cases mention forensic evidence of the creature's fleeting appearance on land. The Margaret Munro case mentions a large depression being found on the beach by her employers when they went to investigate her claims. The E.H. Bright case mentions a three toed foot impression being left by the creature and the Alastair Erskine-Murray case involves a large depression the size of a "bull walrus". Meanwhile, the story of Alec Muir has our witnesses following a trail through the undergrowth to a a bubbling loch surface. We also have the case from the 1970s involving teenagers camping and hearing strange noises outside their tent at night which revealed crushed vegetation around them in the morning.

After Arthur Grant's famous encounter in January 1934, H.F. Hay (a fellow of the Zoological Society of Scotland) visited the spot with Grant and claimed to have seen evidence of body and appendage marks on the beach. The Grant case had the misfortune to have the yet to be discredited "hunter" Marmaduke Wetherell getting involved. There is a photograph of him and Arthur Grant examining wool or something similar attached to bushes. On the subject of tracks, Wetherell is associated with the infamous "Nessie footprints" found on a beach between Foyers and Fort Augustus in December 1933 (picture below). The footprints were declared by him to be genuine but the Natural History Museum examined a plaster cast and decided it to be the right foot of a hippopotamus! Wetherell and the Daily Mail investigation folded shortly after and Wetherell apparently vowed revenge (which seemed to imply the Mail was in on the act but had made Wetherell take the bullet alone). Years later in the Surgeon's Photo expose by Alastair Boyd and David Martin, it turned out that Wetherell had owned a silver hippo foot cast made into an ashtray.



So much for fake tracks but what about the genuine articles? There are three ways the Loch Ness Monster could leave evidence of its terrestrial lumberings, the first are ground depressions left by its body, the second is fecal material (i.e. droppings) and the third is organic material. We will look at each in turn.


DEPRESSIONS

Depressions can be any marks in the ground left by the creature. The problem is what do they look like and how rare are they? Primarily we are looking for main body marks and secondarily appendages due to their lighter and smaller impressions. In that light, we are looking for either oval, concave impressions and possibly gully like impressions for more serpentine morphology. The "canvas" of such impressions is important and indeed we should regard such depressions as rare given the shoreline features of Loch Ness. We can class the types of potential ground as:

  • Heavy and light shingle
  • Sand
  • Grass
  • Bracken type undergrowth

As far as my investigations went, the typical shoreline will consist of some feet of shingle or sand beach followed by level or slightly rising grass or undergrowth which is itself terminated by road or rockface. In fact, because of the roads, the combined  beach-vegetation strip may not be very wide at all and may only be a few feet across. The problems with depressions left by large creatures weighing one tonne or more becomes apparent on closer examination. With grass and heavier undergrowth, there is a time limit on depressions as the vegetation's resilience will spring back to close the gap. In other words, after days or even hours, one may not be aware that anything huge passed that way. The only exception is undergrowth snapped and killed by the sheer weight. Note that the type of undergrowth we are talking about would perhaps be less than two feet high, a large creature with a low centre of gravity and limbs designed primarily for moving underwater is not going to be a great negotiator of typical Loch Ness shoreline.

The problem with shingle is that heavier shingle will not be sufficiently moved to produce anything noticeable. Referring to the Margaret Munro case, her employers noticed the depression in the ground after hearing her story but if she had said nothing and they went for a walk on the beach later, would they have noticed the depression and attached any significance to it? Lighter shingle (i.e. stones less than a few centimetres) and sand offer the best hope of an out of the ordinary depression which would have a long time limit to it (until it is broken up by waves, humans, animals). As it turns out such beaches are not common at Loch Ness but this at least helps focus ones attention on where to look. Sand beaches are the least common compared to shingle but would offer the best hope of tracks being left which have some detail to them. Clearly, the bigger the stones get, the more detail is lost.

By way of example, I came across some curious marks on the shingle beach at a spot on the south side of the loch recently. The photographs below shows a kind of 20 foot long arrow head shaped arrangement of shallow trenches converging at a bush. A comparison photo of the beach further down is shown last.






Now I would normally just say that wave action was depositing lighter shingle on top of heavier but I would then expect all lines to be parallel, so to my uninformed mind, something else was at play to produce these marks. It was also unclear to me how far the water could forcefully progress up the beach as the loch level rises with rainfall and stormy weather. Now I am not saying that this was produced by a serpentine like creature writhing on the beach, I am rather saying that coming across depressions on the beach needs some thought applied to it rather than jumping to conclusions. An examination of the depressions did not reveal any further clues but it would be interesting to visit the marks in a few months time to see if they have been eroded away by natural and artificial means (I saw a group of canoeists dragging their canoes onto shore at that time though I felt the marks were not made by lightweight canoes).



FECAL MATERIAL

Moving onto fecal material, it is clear that if Nessie eats then Nessie defecates. As with Bigfoot hunters, finding such material could prove to be decisive in the Loch Ness Monster hunt as DNA material from intestinal cells could be obtained, but what exactly does one look for (or smell for)? What do Nessie faeces look like? Does she even do her "business" on land? Pertinent questions I am sure have raced through your mind many a time! One would normally give a dung heap a body swerve, but a Nessie one? It's worth its weight in gold!

Assuming faeces do end up on land, they will be even rarer than the actual land excursions themselves. But unlike the creature, they do not go back in the water. If the dung is slurry like (as it is with animals such as sharks in the clip below), then it will be absorbed into the ground and the thin layer of solids will eventually be washed away by some typical Scottish rain or dry and flake off.  Nevertheless, if people actually look for these things, there may be a chance of finding one.





 If it is more solid, the chances of discovery heighten. In fact, one would have presumed a large pile of solid Nessie faeces would have been pretty noticeable after 79 years unless people are mistaking them for livestock dung! My bet is that Nessie faeces are more slurry than solid (and I managed to type that while eating my lunch).


ORGANIC MATERIAL

But the prized item above all is a piece of the Loch Ness Monster. By that we would mean a piece of skin, tooth or claw being found in or near our depression site. Finding these small items in any other context would be next to impossible in my opinion. Indeed, it seems quite unlikely that a piece of tooth or claw would find its way onto the shore - animals tend not to shed teeth and claws as they are important to survival. But skin is a different matter, some animals shed their skin at regular intervals as they outgrow them. This moulting process occurs with snakes, lizards, salamanders and frogs. The skin can either come off in one piece or fragments. 

Whether the Loch Ness Monster sheds its skin as it grows is unknown. What is clear is that a lot of moulting animals eat their shed skin for nutrition so the evidence may be eaten as soon as it is produced! However, as such a creature drags itself along the rough shingle ground, it is possible that some skin would come off and be left behind. These may be quite small and may even be scales, again a thorough search of the suspected depression area (including under shingle) would be required.


THE STATISTICS OF THE SEARCH

Looking for depressions, faeces and skin fragments - the theory is simple enough but the practise may not be. There is approximately 85,000 metres of shoreline along Loch Ness. The beach and vegetation may extend out 2m to 10m and more from water to road or rock. Using an average of 6m gives us an initial surface coverage of about half a million square metres. That is about equivalent to the area of 100 American football fields and very inaccessible in parts. Some parts are very difficult to access such as beyond Foyers to Fort Augustus and Urquhart Bay northwards due to no road access or sheer height. These stretches alone take out a third of the available shoreline so we have more like 57,000 metres.

However, thousands of tourists access the shoreline every year (albeit for very short periods of time and not to look for faeces and skin). What are the chances of something being found? If one creature takes to the available shoreline (340,000 sq m) every month at random at night then one depression of say 6 sq m is made. Assume also the depression erodes away within that month. Now one trained and dedicated person actively searching this shoreline full time for one month would find the depression (assuming the creature does not land on the beach he has just surveyed!). However, such a person does not exist and so we are down to a mix of tourists, locals and monster hunters.

Take Steve Feltham as an example. He is a dedicated monster hunter who lives on the beach at Dores. Assume he surveys 200m of his shoreline every morning for a month. The odds of our creature landing on his stretch in any given month is about 285 to 1 against (57000 / 200). In other words, it would take 285 months to happen or 24 years. Steve has only been there 20 years so perhaps his time has not yet come!

Now take 10,000 tourists over one month parking their cars randomly along the loch and going down to the shore to spend a few minutes taking pictures. Their survey area is much shorter as their focus is on the loch ahead of them but let us assume 5m either side of them (i.e. 10m). However, their coverage is greater than our lone person due to their dispersal around the loch but in practise they tend to focus on key areas such as the location of parking laybys. So their coverage is not 10,000 * 10m but something less than that, I would say less than 5% given how far apart laybys are. That gives them a maximum coverage of 5,000m which suggests the odds of a Nessie depression being near a tourist is no better than 11 to 1 against. That suggests it would take at least a year for a tourist to be within eye shot of a Nessie landing spot. Thereafter other factors dictate:

  • the individual's powers of observation to notice the depression as being noteworthy
  • the quality of the depression given the sand/shingle/bracken factor
  • the odds that the tourist will realise the depression has Nessie significance
  • the odds that this event will get reported and be investigated

Of course, one can play around with the numbers and come to some other conclusion, but I hope I have put across the idea that it is not a given that something will be easily discovered or even make it into the public domain.


CONCLUSIONS

During the heady days of Loch Ness Monster expeditions in the 1960s and 1970s, I think it is fair to say that searching for land markings and other traces was not high up on the agenda. In fact, I am not even sure it featured at all. Given that those water based searches did not produce the final evidence, what have we got to lose by moving the search onto the shore?

Admittedly, the resources required to do this are large and so I do not expect any large scale effort in these more sceptical times. Indeed, even finding a "plesiosaur-shaped" depression may just elicit explanations that range from natural formations to someone digging it out. The marks I found myself could almost be a test case in that regard, natural, human, what? Going back to Ted Holiday's crushed bracken, we can never be quite sure when it comes to these slightly less than obvious intrusions on the loch shoreline. The prize may ultimately lie in what is found in the immediate vicinity.

However, I hope I have added a useful task to the list of those dedicated and occasional Loch Ness Monster hunters who still make their way to the loch looking for that decisive piece of evidence.






Sunday, 19 February 2017

Karl Shuker's latest Nessie book and the Surgeon's Photo




I finally finished Karl Shuker's book on Nessie entitled, "Here's Nessie: A Monstrous Compendium from Loch Ness" and review it here, but some things Karl said also merits some thoughts on that most famous of Nessie photographs, the Surgeon's Photo.

Firstly, Karl has brought a lot to the cryptozoological table since the 1990s and his PhD in zoology qualifies him to speak perceptibly on various issues in the field of cryptozoology. Naturally, the Loch Ness Monster is one of those go to subjects and one that gripped the attention of Karl from his youth upwards.

Now the book itself is a compendium, so what we have is an collection of Karl's shorter writings over the years addressing the issue of the monster in its zoological, cultural and folkloric aspects. In that respect, some of the material may be familiar to seasoned Nessie readers. But the main point is that his thoughts are now put down on paper. As I have emphasised before, websites do not last forever. The may end up partially archived on Internet archive websites, but paper adds a degree of permanency which I welcome.

The scope of the book is wide and its depth varied as it moves from detailed analysis of cryptid theories to the lighter aspects of songs written and stamps issued in honour of this most famous of Scottish icons. The book begins in a more serious tone as it looks at the monster as plesiosaur and as long neck pinniped. The long necked seal theory was quite popular back in the 1970s as it was championed by the likes of Bernard Heuvelmans and Peter Costello.

I agree with Karl's conclusions that this is an unlikely candidate for the Loch Ness Monster. There are too many cons outweighing the pros of the argument. I would add the qualifier that I would only consider it viable if the creature was somehow not a resident of the loch, but rather a visitor who breeds and feeds elsewhere. That in itself is another discussion.

The modified plesiosaur also enjoys extended treatment and Karl writes well on this vexed subject. I say vexed because even if plesiosaurs survived the great Cretaceous extinction, we have no idea what they would like today after such a long time. It would be easy to add various adaptions to produce a Nessie-like plesiosaur, but a surviving plesiosaur may actually look nothing like the Loch Ness Monster. 

I also appreciated Karl's lookback at the 1987 symposium on the Loch Ness Monster in Edinburgh which I have read obliquely about in its published papers, but not from the perspective of an attendee. I am trying to think why I did not make this event myself. I suspect it was because I had started working and became a bit too focussed on that! 

Thereafter, the book tends to move towards smaller cultural articles which is probably a wise move as one is more focused at the beginning. 


THE WILSON CONTROVERSY





But let us focus more on the overview of chapter one and Karl's words on the Surgeon's Photo. Karl takes a strong line in viewing the Spurling story of the hoaxed photograph as a hoax itself and bases this conclusion on various inconsistencies he sees in the narrative and which he lists in his book.

Now I myself take the view, based on the balance of the pros and cons, that the Spurling account is true. I don't say that with a 100% certainty as I tend to rate Nessie pictures on a scale of probability which is purely my own personal interpretation (as everyone's will be).

So in the mix of pictures that I regards as fake, real or misinterpretation, I may say a picture is 60-40 in favour of being the monster or I may say it is 70-30 in favour of being a wake or something else. That rating approach will also apply to this famous photograph. Let me now list Karl's objections in no particular order of persuasiveness.
 
1. There was a suspicious delay in publicising the 1975 Marmaduke article, leading to it being too late to question now deceased people.

2. The clockwork submarine with attached neck would be unstable. Karl does admit that a Japanese TV documentary crew did get a toy submarine stable, though he is not convinced of its closeness to the original setup.

3. The ripples around object show it is not moving, in distinction to the claim that the submarine was moving.

4. A 1987 study by LeBlond/Collins study of the surrounding wave patterns suggests the neck is nearer to four feet high and not the one foot that Spurling claimed.

5. The submarine theory does not explain the second photograph (below).




6. There are contradictions between the Wetherell confession and the Spurling confession.

7. Why did the hoaxers not expose the picture to the world and get their revenge on the Daily Mail?

8. The Egginton letter claimed Wilson told Egginton that the photo was a superimposition laid over an original image and not a model.

9. There is no evidence that the toy submarine was used (no photos of it or its deployment). The descendants of Marmaduke Wetherell manage to produce the hippo ashtray with which he produced his infamous tracks, but they could not produce anything to do with the toy submarine.







Now obviously some arguments carry less weight that others. I would not attach much weight to points 1, 4 and 7 as I can see counter explanations. Point 2 and the stability of the modified submarine was always one that could go either way for me. Spurling said he stabilised it by adding lead strips to the bottom and that is fair enough.

This was basically one that needed to be retried to satisfy curiosities. I can't find a link which shows this Japanese crew trying out their submarine reproduction, if anyone can find it, post a link below. But for me, the main test is not placing this in a bathtub, but seeing how stable such an arrangement would be in choppier waters. 

Points 3, 6 and 8 are all variations on the theme of contradictory witness statements. Was the rigged submarine moving or not? Was it actually a manipulated photo rather than a model? Wetherell does not mention Spurling as a co-conspirator and Spurling does not mention Chambers. Wetherell says it was rubber tubing, Spurling says it was plastic wood.

Now I have to say that if this was a group of eyewitnesses describing a monster sighting, the same sceptics who dismiss these contradictions would quite happily use them against any Nessie report ... because their prejudices demand they be used against the eyewitnesses. I expect nothing less from sceptics and their tactics, but should others fall for this?

The answer can be "yes" or "no" depending on the case. My problem is that Ian Wetherell made his confession 41 years after the event and Spurling made his nearly 60 years after. Clearly, there is going to be a significant degree of memory recall issues after such long periods. In fact, one cannot be sure either of them is being accurate in their details.

In the absence of written records or retained artifacts, I would say it is impossible to distinguish a lie from a memory defect after such a long period. That does not mean the basic story is in doubt, but rather the precise details.

Point 9 has its merits as well as we do have the hippo ashtray (now resident at the Loch Ness Centre in Drumnadrochit) but we have nothing physical to prove the Wilson hoax. Wetherell claimed the sub was stepped on because a water bailiff approached the group. It seems they did not recover it.

I had a curious thought at that point. Was not Alex Campbell the water bailiff at Loch Ness and so was he the supposed bailiff that interrupted the Wetherells? If so, he seems to have said nothing about it to anyone!

Finally, there is point 5 and that mysterious second photograph. I know critics say the wave patterns are different between the two photos, but the point is that the Spurling theory does not predict the photo, let alone explain it. It was on one of the exposed plates, so what does it mean? To date, I have read no persuasive argument regarding it.

So, do you think these nine points swing the argument towards "monster" or keep it in "hoax" territory? I have been aware of these arguments for some time, but I still weigh the pros and cons and come out about 60-40 in favour of this being a hoax. The one thing I would say is that this story has two confessors - Ian Wetherell and Christian Spurling.

Any one individual can make an accusation against a photo and we have had them in this field and that is why I am cautious about accepting one single person's accusation unless there is some corroborating evidence (e.g. Richard Frere and his lone accusation against Lachlan Stuart).

So we have two people on the record and, unless you believe in a conspiracy, that strengthens the case. And that is where I think I would leave this particular case.



The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Up at the Loch again


About six weeks after my day trip to Loch Ness, it was time for a longer visit to Britain's largest stretch of freshwater. We pitched up at the Foyers campsite where we have been going for a number of years now and always found a great place to stay. That site is up for sale and we wish Donald and Lyn Forbes well in their retirement and hope the good work continues under new ownership.

Now I do not normally go up north in July as I anticipate a surge of tourism crowds and it is generally hotter for moving around. As it turned out the crowds did not turn up and it looked more like May than July to me. Well, a lot of foreign tourists did not make the trip this year and the staycation people may have gone abroad in bigger numbers than I thought. 

As usual, I took a walk along Foyers beach to take in the views but also this year with a task in mind; as will be explained later. Back in the tent as the sun descended, I read my usual chapter from Ted Holiday's 1968 book, "The Great Orm of Loch Ness". The chapter was "Foyers at Sunrise" which describes Holiday's first trip to the loch in August 1962, a spartan affair in an old van with fishing rods and frying pans which ended with Holiday catching his first sight of the creature from Upper Foyers. 

The "orm" was down below in a small estuary beside the old aluminium works, but today I wondered if there was any chance of recreating that view due to the surge in growth of the intervening trees and other foliage. That depends where Holiday was standing, but the loch is not as accessible as it was sixty years ago.

One thing to check on this initial walk was that curious depressed area of grass I had found almost exactly a year before. The first photo shows what this large area looked like then and the second what it looks like now. Clearly some large weight had laid upon it a year ago and at some point it recovered its normal position. Actually, it looked a bit threadbare compared to last year. No worries, I jokingly mused, Nessie's toxic slime must have killed them off.




The following day, the hot and humid conditions continued as we took a leisurely drive up to Inverness, stopping at various points to watch the loch and consuming Pot Noodle for lunch. This was what is traditionally considered, "Nessie Weather", though how much of this is due to monsters or humans is unclear. More people are looking at the loch in good weather and the surface conditions are far less choppy, though there was a cooling breeze travelling up the loch.

In Inverness, we visited some bookshops and took in the reopened Museum. It has to be said that books on the Loch Ness Monster are hard to find in the largest centre of population just eight miles from the loch - apart from the usual kids' books. Even a visit to the well stocked Leakey's Secondhand bookshop had nothing. No Holiday, no Dinsdale, no Whyte or Gould (though their Abebooks account did have two Whyte books). But go online and you will find everything you need.

The next day we did a circuit of the entire loch from Foyers, through Fort Augustus, Drumnadrochit and back down via Dores. Stopping at Kilchuimen for supplies, I had one task which involved walking along the River Oich. There is a path you can take which lies tight between the river and the petrol station. Just remember to bring a machete at this time of year. Once the towering but derelict bridge arch came into view, I remembered Ricky Phillips.

I wondered if the branch he had photographed about two and a half years ago and palmed off as the monster was still there? Yes, it was as the photo below demonstrates. It is right in the centre and the zoom in shows it more clearly. As it turned out, the focus of this trip was all about famous hoax pictures.




Once we were back at base, there was work to be done. The waders were donned and the Garrett Ace 250 metal detector was taken out of the car boot. What has this to do with the Loch Ness Monster you may ask? The answer is the Surgeon's Photograph and the alleged toy submarine employed by Marmaduke Wetherell. Back in March, I had written an article suggesting that the site for this hoax was the western end of the beach at Foyers which I had walked along many a time. 

There was therefore two questions to answer. Did Wetherell leave any pieces of the toy sub when he crushed it underfoot and how detectable would such fragments be today, eighty seven years on? My assumption was that it was a long shot that anything would be found, but there was only one way to find out and start metal detecting.

Since I was searching in the waters of the loch, there was no need to seek the permission of the owner of the beach. Fortunately, the Garrett detector is waterproof up to the control unit at the top. That gave me a couple of feet of water to work with. Since Ian Wetherell stated that his father had stepped on the sub as the water bailiff approached, it did not sound like too deep a waters.

I must admit I felt like that chap, Gary Drayton, from one of my favourite programmes, "The Curse of Oak Island". Would I manage that "top pocket find" and draw the curtain on the infamous picture? As I kicked off and swept the coil above the submerged rocks, the detector began buzzing almost right away. The rocks underfoot are quite big on this beach, going up to a foot across, so it was more about moving rocks than digging.

I reached down into the now cloudy waters and moved the rocks, retried the coil, gathering up handfuls of gravel for testing until I pulled up a very rusty sliding bolt latch. This was followed by hits on some metal bars, a door hinge and a fly tackle. The Gary Drayton effect had moved more onto what some of these objects were. They would send them off to a specialist blacksmith, I had to make my own educated guesses.




I suspect some of this was related to farming equipment, as the fields above used to be farmland. Fragments may have made their way down the hill from the fields above and kids just picked them up and threw them into the loch over the years and decades. How old the items were was not clear. But their thickness certainly helped preserve them over the years. What was also surprising was that they were buried under quite large rocks. I just expected those rocks to not move and things to lie on top.

So nothing related to the Wetherell hoax found, but I did not cover all the possible areas. After such a long time, my expectation was that perhaps the wind up motor unit would survive the longest, but of course, we do not know what was left behind as the Wetherells headed back to London. But all in all, it was a worthwhile exercise.

The next day, everything was packed up and we slowly headed back south. The weather was brilliant throughout, I had also done some reconnaissance on where to place trap cameras on our next visit and the metal detector as a device performed beyond my expectation, though what else one could employ it for in Loch Ness research is not so clear. Any ideas are invited.

As an aside, I listened to some of Scott Mardis' "Haunted Sea" chats on the "Monster X" podcasts in my tent in the evening. I would recommend his interview with veteran Nessie hunter, Henry Bauer and his chat with Ken Gerhard here. All good stuff.



The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com