Today's article is focused on the strange way that two assumed different mysterious creatures were/are likely to be one and the same. If that sounds a bit weird, well, it is! With that said, I'll get to the point. The story addresses the U.K.'s lake monsters and centuries-old stories of what, in the United Kingdom, were known as "worms." They were hardly like today's worms, however, as you'll see. We'll begin with the matter of the beasts to be found in Scotland. Just about everyone has heard of the Loch Ness Monsters. There are, however, more than a few such monsters around the country. For example, there is "Morag," (or, more correctly, the Morags) of Loch Morar, Scotland. They, too, are the classic humped, long-necked-types of beasts. There are other such Scottish monsters too. At just over eleven and a half miles in length, Loch Morar has the distinction of being the deepest body of freshwater in the British Isles, with a depth of just over 1,000 feet. Unlike Loch Ness - the water of which is almost black - Loch Morar can boast of having practically clear water. There are also the creatures of Loch Oich, also in Scotland.
Nessie authority Roland Watson says: "…the first claimed mention of a creature in Loch Oich is by the famous Dutch cryptozoologist A. C. Oudemans in 1934 when he relates the tale of 'The Children’s Pool.' This was a tale of children who saw a creature like a deformed pony appear beside a deep pool of the River Garry which feeds into Loch Oich. The children mounted the docile beast which then flew and plunged into the pool with the children to their doom. The story is believed to be from at least 1894 and though strictly this is perhaps more of a river Kelpie than a loch inhabiting Each Uisge, it is still worth a mention. Peter Costello, who related the Oudemans reference in his book In Search of Lake Monsters felt that Oudemans took the story a bit too seriously and I would agree with him as children riding to their doom was a common motif in the Water Horse genre across various lochs in the old Highlands (as related in the book The Water Horses of Loch Ness). Nevertheless, it does suggest an oral tradition of an Each Uisge in and around Loch Oich before modern times." There are also said to be monsters in Loch Lochy (known as Lizzie) and Loch Arkaig.
Now, with that all said, let's take a look at that other type of monster I mentioned earlier in the article: the mysterious worm. The River Wear is a sixty-mile-long body of water that dominates much of northern England and which, in medieval times, was said to have been the lair of a marauding, giant worm-like monster – one which provoked unrelenting terror across the land, devouring animals and people, and causing mayhem wherever it crawled and slithered – that is, until its reign of fear was brought to a fatal halt when a brave hero decided that the creature had to die. One person who dug deeply into the strange but engaging saga of the Lambton Worm was Joseph Jacobs, a noted Australian folklorist who, in the 1800s, focused much of his research and writings on the matter of strange creatures, fabulous beasts, and marauding monsters reported throughout the British Isles. And, it’s to Jacobs who we now turn, and his personal, 19th century account of this legendary monster of the deep:
"A wild young fellow was the heir of Lambton, the fine estate and hail by the side of the swift-flowing Wear. Not a Mass would he hear in Brugeford Chapel of a Sunday, but a-fishing he would go. And if he did not haul in anything, his curses could be heard by the folk as they went by to Brugeford. Well, one Sunday morning he was fishing as usual, and not a salmon had risen to him, his basket was bare of roach or dace. And the worse his luck, the worse grew his language, till the passers-by were horrified at his words as they went to listen to the Mass-priest. At last young Lambton felt a mighty tug at his line. 'At last,' quoth he, 'a bite worth having!' and he pulled and he pulled, till what should appear above the water but a head like an elf's, with nine holes on each side of its mouth. But still he pulled till he had got the thing to land, when it turned out to be a Worm of hideous shape." The monster was eventually killed.
The saga of the Linton Worm falls into this category, too. The story goes back to the 1100s. it tells of a horrific, man-eating, giant, worm-like beast that terrified the good folk of Linton, Roxburghshire, which is located on the Southern Uplands of Scotland. According to the old tales, the Linton Worm was somewhere between ten and twelve feet in length, which, if true, effectively rules out any known British animal – wild or domestic – as being the culprit. Rather oddly, so the old legend went, the huge worm had two "homes." In part, it lived in the heart of Linton Loch – a small, boggy area and the ideal place for a monster to hide. Its other, dark abode was Linton Hill, which even today is referred to as Worm’s Den, such is the enduring nature of the legend. That the beast apparently had the ability to leave the water and slither across the landscape of Scotland brings to mind the reports of both the aforementioned Morag and Nessie being seen on land. I suggest that the similarities do not amount to coincidences. In all probability, the worms of centuries ago, and the lake monsters of now, are the same things.