By Jim Rees

What is it in the human psyche that prompts us to be fascinated by fear? It’s an undeniable trait – Alfred Hitchcock made a lifelong movie career and several fortunes pandering to it.

Bram Stoker did it with Dracula, Mary Shelley did it with Frankenstein. A similar figment of fantasy has been a money spinner in Scotland for well over a century, as tourists flock in search of the Loch Ness Monster.

Okay, okay – I apologise. I’m stating with absolute confidence that no such being exists, which is as silly as categorically believing in the monster without hard evidence.

It’s an argument that has been going on for a very long time and there have been several serious attempts to prove or disprove the story of a massive creature living in Britain’s largest and deepest lake.

The first report goes back to the 6th century when the Irish monk Adomnán mentioned the beast in his biography of St. Columba. Columba was in Scotland when he came across a funeral in progress on the edge of Loch Ness.

Some of the mourners explained to him that the deceased man had been swimming when he was attacked by a strange beast. Columba ordered one of his followers to act as bait by swimming in the lake and, sure enough, the beast popped his head above the surface.

As Nessy was about to attack, Columba made the sign of the Cross and the beast withdrew.

Continue reading in this week’s Autumn Special