EDINBURGH, Scotland — What lurks beneath the dark waters of Scotland’s Loch Ness?
Newly released documents on display Tuesday in Scotland show that during the 1930s, police in Scotland were convinced some sort of creature inhabited the Highlands lake — so sure, in fact, that they worried about how to protect it from big-game hunters.
The files from the National Archive of Scotland show that local officials asked Britain’s Parliament to investigate the issue and confirm the monster’s existence.
“That there is some strange creature in Loch Ness now seems beyond doubt,” wrote William Fraser, a senior police officer, “but that the police have any power to protect it is very doubtful.”
The legend of what lies beneath the surface — it’s about 750 feet to the bottom of the loch — dates to 565 A.D., when St. Columba is recorded as having driven away a water monster by the power of prayer, the National Archive said.
The search for Nessie grew feverish in the 1930s after a surgeon snapped a (now discredited) photo of a black dinosaur-like head rising from the depths.
Archivist Tristram Clarke said the letters reveal that some people sincerely believed there was a monster in the loch, though the cool response from the government suggests plenty of detractors. If nothing else, Clarke said the Fraser letter proves that the police were under pressure to protect whatever it was.
Fraser’s letter to officials in London warned that he feared hunters Peter Kent and Marion Stirling were “determined to catch the monster dead or alive” and planned to use a “special harpoon gun.”
Files show that it was deemed better not to kill the monster — or the myth — by stationing cameras or observers around the lake.
Devoted believers continue to scour the loch. Gary Campbell of the Official Loch Ness monster club lives in hope of finding Nessie one day.
“Fourteen years ago I saw a hump break the water on the loch, I took a double take and then more of it appeared,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything since, but I keep looking. It probably cost me my social life.”