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Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Red Bard and the Loch Ness Monster

                         Travel The Two Realms, Part Three
                                       Loch Ness, Scotland


Loch Ness, Scotland

The ruins of Urquhart Castle overlook the blue-gray waters of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands, located about twenty-three miles southwest of Inverness. Reports of a monster living in the great depths of the freshwater loch have surfaced from ancient times until as recently as April 7, 2022 (Monster Sightings Register). 

Saint Columba and Nessie

Even the Irish monk Saint Columba, best known for Celtic Christianity, the isle of Iona, and having been found guilty by the High King of illegally copying a religious text, claimed in 562 AD to have encountered the water beast. While staying near the mouth of the River Ness, Columba heard rumors of the monster. So he directed a follower to swim into the river. According to Columba, when the monster appeared, he banished the creature to Loch Ness.

Alas, when I visited the famed site, “Nessie” was nowhere to be found, except as brightly colored toys in the Nessie Shop at the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition. At the time, I had little thought of including the famed loch, or its monster, in my Two Realms fantasy book series.

Years later I realized Loch Ness, geographically and historically, was an ideal fit for my fictional Scottish landscape. So I gave “Nessie” a fresh twist. But what truly clinched my decision to feature Loch Ness monster in The Viking Mist was a historical figure named “The Red Bard.”


As William D. McEachern describes in his book, Caledonia: A Song of Scotland, a dispute in the 1400s over ownership of Urquhart Castle eventually led the rightful, but impoverished castle owner, the Earl of Huntly, to lease the castle to Sir Duncan Grant of Freuchie. Upon Grant's death, the castle was bequeathed to his grandson, John "the Red Bard," who returned the castle to its past glory, "and ran the estates efficiently and with justice."

No writer could pass up a great name like the Red Bard. So I created  a contentious fictional backstory between my characters' ancestors and the prior owners of Urquhart Castle. 

Tensions spike when the Thaness of Thorburn finds herself not only on enemy land, but face-to-face with the famed monster of Loch Ness.

            KINDLE            KOBO

Should you find yourself traveling the Two Realms, venture to Loch Ness and drink in its beauty. Who knows? You may spot something unusual in the water!

In next Tuesday's Travel The Two Realms, we will explore the mystical Callanish Stones (Gaelic: Calanais) on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Meanwhile, you can visit The Two Realms on my Pinterest board.

Until then, stay kind and magical.


Copyright 2022 Ariella Moon

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