Mar 14, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Another Supernatural Lake Monster – But This One Isn’t Nessie

A couple of days ago, I wrote an article here at Mysterious Universe as to why I suspect that the Nessies might likely be paranormal creatures, rather than flesh and blood animals. Creatures that can shapeshift, even. I should stress that this phenomenon isn't tied to just Loch Ness. Not at all. Welcome to the world of Morag, the resident beasty of Loch Morar, Scotland, that decided to put on several spectacular displays in 1968 and 1969. 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 slightly more than 1,000 feet. Unlike Loch Ness, the water of which is almost black, Loch Morar can boast of having practically clear water. It takes its name from the village of Morar, which is situated close by and specifically at the western side of the loch, and which was the site of the Battle of Morar in 1602 – a violent, death-filled confrontation between the Mackenzie and MacDonell clans. As for the monster, Morag, the tales are many. What makes them so different to the ones coming out of Loch Ness, however, is not the descriptions of the creatures, but that such reports are often hard to uncover. Unlike Loch Ness, Loch Morar is an isolated, seldom visited loch. It is bereft of much in the way of a large population, and it is not particularly easy to access. The result: tourists to Scotland very rarely visit it. The same goes for native Scots, too! For that reason, just like Las Vegas, what happens at Loch Morar is very often destined to stay there. Nevertheless, there are enough classic cases on record to strongly suggest very strange things lurk in Loch Morar.

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(Nick Redfern) Not quite the real Morag, but close enough!

Folklorist Alexander Carmichael – who, in 1862, penned the book, Popular Tales of the West Highlands - said: "The Morag dwells in Loch Morar. She gives her name to the lake and still appears when any of the old Macdonalds of Morar die. Like the other water deities she is half human half fish [italics mine]. The lower portions of her body is in the form of a grilse and the upper in the form of a small woman of highly developed breasts with long flowing yellow hair falling down her snow white back and breast. She is represented as being fair, beautiful and very timid and never seen save when one of the Morar family dies or when the clan falls in battle." That Carmichael termed the Morags as half-human and half-fish, yet others have described them as definitively serpentine, is a good indicator that like the kelpies of Loch Ness, the Morags are shapeshifters.

One of the earliest Morag reports came from a man named James McDonald, who claimed a sighting of a three-humped creature snaking through the waters, late one, cold, dark night, in January 1887. Rather ominously, superstitious locals perceived this as a distinctly ill-omen: the three sections were seen as death, a coffin, and a grave – such was the fear that the villagers had of the monster in their midst. Eight years later, Sir Theodore Henry Brinckman, 2nd Baronet, and his wife were fishing at the loch when a long thing, shaped like an upturned boat, surfaced from the depths. One of the locals, a man named MacLaren, dismissed the matter as nothing more than a sighting of the loch's resident monster. His casual tones suggest he saw nothing strange about a huge beast roaming length, breadth, and depth of Loch Ness. An astonishing sighting occurred in 1948, when a man named Alexander MacDonnell sighted one of the Morags actually on the bank of the shore, at Bracorina Point. In a few moments it practically belly-flopped into the water and vanished. It was a beast described as the size of an elephant. Needless to say, there is no known, indigenous creature in the British Isles that rivals an elephant in size. In the same year, a number of people, led by a Mr. John Gillies, caught sight of an approximately thirty-foot-long animal, displaying no less than four humps.

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(Nick Redfern) What lurks below in a Scottish Lake?

Then, in August 1968, John MacVarish had a very close view of an unknown animal in Loch Morar, one that displayed a snake-like head of about six-feet in length, and had very dark, or black skin. Without doubt the most amazing - and, for the witnesses, nerve-wracking – encounters occurred on the night of August 16, 1969. That was when William Simpson and Duncan McDonnell were traveling on the waters, near the west end of the loch. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a large animal – possibly thirty feet in length – loomed into view and actually collided with their motor-boat. Or, perhaps, rammed it would be a better term to use. When Simpson tried to blast the creature with his shotgun, it sank beneath the waves – as a result of the ear-splitting sound of the gun, both men concluded, rather than as a result of Simpson having actually shot the monster. This was just two months after Ted Holiday investigated the discovery of a strange, serpent-themed tapestry in the old cemetery that sits next to Aleister's Boleskine House. A tapestry designed to raise terrible lake-monsters - and that I described in my previous article on Nessie.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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