Loch Ness lies along a natural geographic fault line that stretches across the breadth of Scotland. Geographically, it has always been an important site for military, political and commercial reasons – and almost certainly had settlers as long ago as 2000 BC.
In the first millennium the Great Glen was populated by Pictish tribes who gradually converted to Christianity following the pilgrimages of figures such as St Columba. By the 1200s, the area was in considerable turmoil following revolts against the monarchy and the loss of Urquhart Castle to the English. Following the coronation of Robert the Bruce as King of Scotland in 1306, ownership of the castle passed back to the Scottish Crown – although Urquhart was to fall time and again to the Clan MacDonald. In the 1600s, the castle was abandoned, but the ruins still stand today – and provide an evocative reminder of Scotland’s violent past.
Loch Ness has also been the home to many colourful characters and dramatic incidents from more recent history. Aleister Crowley, the infamous occultist, lived at Boleskine House during the early twentieth century. Rumours of black magic ceremonies and secret tunnels still persist to this day.
During World War Two, a Wellington bomber was forced to ditch into the Loch when an engine failed. Almost 40 years later, the aircraft was discovered by divers and raised from the waters in surprisingly good condition. After restoration, the bomber made one final journey to Brooklands Motorsport and Aviation Museum, where it can still be seen today.
Loch Ness was also the location for John Cobb’s water speed record attempt in 1952. Although he broke the record in his speedboat ‘Crusader’, becoming the first man to travel at over 200mph on water, tragedy struck when the vessel lost control and disintegrated, killing its pilot. A memorial has been placed at the edge of the Loch to commemorate Cobb’s achievement.
There are a wealth of interesting stories to be discovered at Loch Ness – come and see for yourself… Now read about some of the Myths and Legends of Loch Ness.