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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: ODD AQUATIC CREATURE IN LOCH ASSYNT,SCOTLAND, 1837-1839

The following article appeared in the Blackburn Standard of December 30th 1840 page 1:

STRANGE ANIMAL a recent meeting of the Zoological Society, the secretary read a communication made to Lord Francis Egerton, by one of the agents on the Duke of Sutherland`s estate, respecting an animal said to have been repeatedly seen in Loch Assynt. In the autumn of 1837, it was observed by two young men, Kenneth M`Leod and Donald M`Kay, who were fishing in the loch. It appeared close to the end of their fishing rods, and is described by them as having large eyes, and it opened its mouth so wide that “ they could see down its mouth so wide that “they could see down to its very heart”. The colour was grey, the hair like bristles, the tusks large, the ears hanging down like those of a sheep, the shape of the head altogether was like a bull dog, but broader. It was seen again soon afterwards on a small island, in the loch, and is described as about the size of a stirk (*) , but broader in the back, about three feet high, with four legs, like those of a pig, but stouter. The description given by other persons of it corresponded generally with the above. It was seen five times in three years – the last time in 1839.

* Stirk-heifer or bullock

5 comments:

Dale Drinnon said...

I'd go for feral boar of large size once again. I have in the meantime also been told there are such creatures also reported as Lake Monsters in European Russia.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

Dale Drinnon said...

I'll go for feral boar of large size again this time. I have also been told earlier this year that such creatures have also beeen reported as "Lake Monsters" in parts of European Russia.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

Richard Freeman said...

Walrus.

Dr Mike Dash said...

At last!

This is the first referenced account of a legendary paper regarding the 'monster' of Loch Assynt. It is referenced in most books on Scottish water monsters and I've been trying without luck to track it down for years.

Egerton's paper was mentioned by Lord Malmesbury in his Memoirs of an Ex-Minister just after he described his own experience of a 'kelpie' sighting at Loch Arkaig, as follows: "It is the same animal of which one has occasionally read accounts in the newspapers of having been seen in highland lochs, and on the existence of which in Loch Assynt the late Lord Ellesmere wrote an interesting article..." [Costello, In Search of Lake Monsters p.148).

Dale Drinnon said...

Although the tusks were reported as "large" [but not necessarily excessively so), the ears were also large and drooping, and it was covered with bristles. So it was not a walrus.

Best Wishes, Dale D.
PS, I gather later reports from this Loch can include reports in the "Master-Otter" category, but that would be going on an evaluative general impression of a previously-written general impression, not on a close scrutiny of actual reports.