FURTHER to your article “Desperately seeking Nessie” (The Week, 24 February), your readers may be interested to know that a fellow pupil of mine at the Abbey School, Fort Augustus, has written a book, The First And Lost Iona: A Secret History Of Fort Augustus, in which he provides a convincing explanation of the Loch Ness Monster.
Firstly, the creature mentioned by Adomnan in his Vita Sancti Columbae is described as a beast and not a monster. Most likely it was a bear, as the Irish had never seen bears before.
Secondly, as to the identity of the monster, it is almost certain that it was the prow of a Viking warship scuttled prior to their departure from that area. No sightings of the monster were recorded before the 1930s when blasting took place to create the road on the west side of the loch. This would have disturbed the warship from its position sunk on the banks of the loch and brought it to the surface.
The loch is so deep that there is a warm current propelled by the prevailing SW wind in a northerly direction, countered by a deeper cold current in the opposite direction. This could account for the sightings of the “monster” in different places in the loch. The warmer upper water is separated from the colder lower layer by the thermocline. Each time the prow rises and then sinks into the denser layers the prow disintegrates a little, thus accounting for the decreasing number of sightings. The prow of a Viking warship would have been adorned by a fierce animal head. This corresponds with sightings of a long neck and a small head.
Colin McAllister, St Andrews