“Nessie” is, of course, the affectionate nickname for the Loch Ness “monster”, which is or isn’t lurking under the dark water of where else but “Loch Ness”. Sightings of “something” swimming in Loch Ness are numerous, the most famous being a photograph of what appears to be an aquatic Brontosaurus floating casually on the surface of the loch.
But “Nessie” sightings trace back to Roman time, and earlier.
The Picts, a tribe that lived around Loch Ness when Rome conquer the British Isles were fascinated by animals and carefully and accurately rendered the animals they encountered with great accuracy. All the animals depicted on the Pictish stones are very lifelike and easily recognizable, except one. The exception is a strange beast with an elongated beak and flippers instead of feet. Some scholars described it as “a swimming elephant”. These are the most ancient of the recorded sighting of “Nessie”, a legend that has been in existence for at least 1,500 years; that Loch Ness is the home to a mysterious aquatic animal.
The earliest written reference to the Loch Ness “monster” is in the biography of Saint Columba, the man who introduced Christianity to Scotland. In 565, AD. His account says that while Columba was on his way to visit a Pictish king he saw a large beast about to attack a man who was swimming in the Loch. Columba raised his hand, and by invoking the name of God, commanded the monster to “go back with all speed.” Which, according to the account, the beast did, and the swimmer was saved.
Since then, Nessie has improved its manners, and is now seems rather shy and reclusive. Perhaps, being at least several thousand years old, Nessie is slowing down a bit.