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Cornish History, Myths and Oddities: Morgawr Sea Monster

Updated on September 26, 2016

Morgawr: The Loch Ness Monster of Falmouth, Cornwall

Morgawr: The Meaning

Cornwall has it's own language, Cornish. Morgawr is a Cornish word meaning, quite simply, "sea giant". Morgawr is certainly a large creature, a sea giant!

Morgawr is the Cornish equivalent of the Scottish Loch Ness Monster. Everybody's heard of the Loch Ness Monster, but less are aware that there's a similar beast in Falmouth, Cornwall.

The monster's name is Morgawr and he's been seen and photographed a number of times. Is Morgawr real? Many sightings have occurred:

1876: The first story that there was a monster in the sea off Falmouth, came in 1876, when a fisherman said he had captured one. Of course, back then, it will have been just a local story and that was the end of it, now it'd be across the major newspapers as "Cornish Sea Monster Found"

1900: A report of a sea monster in Penzance, seen by a captain. "...a very large animai of a dark colour, which seemed racing with us. I once saw the animal was not a whale, but some sea monster, the like of which I had never seen in my life. The animal was uncomfortably near. We could even see that the skin was covered some substance like a rough coating of hair. The monster raised its body the fore part clean out of the water, and made direct for the boat. I plainly saw the monster rise until its head was over mast"

1906: Later, in 1906 a sea serpent was spotted off the coast of Lands End. Nothing was heard again until 1926.

1926: A fisherman reported catching something in his nets. This was described as 20' long, with an 8' tail, scaly legs and a beak-like head.

Morgawr, Sea monster in Cornwall
Morgawr, Sea monster in Cornwall
Sea Monster Photo by: Tselrahc
Sea Monster Photo by: Tselrahc

1975: The next sightings weren't until 1975 when two witnesses claim they saw a humped animal off Pendennis Point, Falmouth. Shortly after, in February 1976, a lady called Mary reported seeing a sea monster and sent photographs to the local paper, The Falmouth Packet. At the time she described it as like an elephant waving its trunk, but the trunk had a head at the end. However, neither Mary, nor the negatives of the sea monster have ever been found.

1975: Later in the year, in July, two local fishermen, John Cock and George Vinnicombe, also reported seeing a monster whose head reared up 4' above the water.

1976: The most documented sighting was in 1976, on 17 November. Tony 'Doc' Shiels and the then Editor of the Cornish Life Magazine, David Clarke, saw Morgawr in the Fal Estuary. They managed to get a photograph and this appeared in the Fortean Times in the summer of 1977 edition (edition 22). It was a poor photo because in the excitement of the moment, they managed to jam the camera.

Obviously, since then, there have been many debates about the authenticity of the photograph and it was reported in the book Strange and Unexplained Physical Phenomenon, published in 1993. This book is now exceedingly rare so if you manage to get a copy of it you're privileged.

1977: Other photos exist, taken by Gerry Bennett of Seworgan, Cornwall. Gerry was at Mawnan Smith beach on 31 January 1977 - these are also to be found in Edition 22 of the Fortean Times.

1985: The next sighting wasn't until 1985, in Gerrans Bay, Susan Waldron, a holidaymaker from King's Stanley in Gloucestershire, said she had seen it when she was watching her husband, Christopher Waldron, swimming in the sea, although all she saw was a shadow and shape.

1987: Two years later, in 1987, and some 50 miles east along the coast at Devils Point in Plymouth, Devon, an experienced diver sighted what he described as a dog-like head that rose 3' out of the sea, although the area is an area favoured by conger eels.

1999: The most recent reported sighting was as recent as 1999, again at Gerrans Bay, Cornwall. A man by the name of John Holmes, a former Natural History Museum worker, claims he video-taped an unidentified sea creature. This video footage was released.

Is Morgawr Real?

What do you think? There are arguments for the sea monster Morgawr to be real, or there's the modern thinking that it's just a myth. Like the Loch Ness Monster, it can never be disproven, only proven. If a fisherman lands a giant sea monster in Cornwall, then it'll prove Morgawr is real. But if nobody finds one, then that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Wooden Monster Carving at Gyllyngdune Gardens, Falmouth

If you are visiting Gyllyngdune Gardens in Falmouth, look out for the great wooden carving of Morgawr. This sea monster sculpture's a fairly recent addition.

Map of Cornish Sea Monster Sightings

show route and directions
A markerFalmouth, Cornwall -
Falmouth, Cornwall, UK
get directions


B markerLands End, Cornwall -
Land's End, Penzance, Cornwall TR19, UK
get directions

C markerFal Estuary, Cornwall -
Fal Estuary, Cornwall
get directions

D markerGerrans Bay, Portscatho -
Portscatho, Cornwall TR2, UK
get directions

E markerDevills Point, Plymouth -
Cremyll, Cornwall PL10, UK
get directions

Morgawr: Timeline

Fisherman says he caught a sea serpent
Lands End
Sighting at sea.
Sea serpent landed by fisherman
Pendennis Point, Falmouth
Two witnesses see a sea serpent
Fal Estuary
Tony Shiels and David Clarke take two photos taken
Fortean Times
Photographs published
Gerrans Bay, Cornwall
Holidaymaker spots a shadow
Devils Point, Plymouth
Diver sights dog-like head
Gerrans Bay, Cornwall
John Holmes makes video
Crealy Adventure Park
Added a new Roller Coaster Ride called Morgawr

New Morgawr Rollercoaster at Crealy

New for the 2010 season, Crealy Adventure Park launched a new roller coaster, called Morgawr - the front of the ride is a huge dragon head/torso.

So, it looks like Morgawr's fame will spread! ... perhaps leading to more sightings of him.

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    • A Universal Truth profile image

      A Universal Truth 6 years ago

      Brilliant Hub!

    • profile image

      jasonfarley 7 years ago

      ive seen morgawr down by st michaels mount aswell

    • profile image

      sonofkernow 7 years ago

      you can get a better view of morgawr down at st michaels mount when the tide is in, im afraid you do need to be in a boat to get the best view and u need to be west of the mount,

      i see no need in taking photos of this animal as i don't want to encourage monster hunters in trying to catch or kill the poor animal

      but i will say this don't mistake it for a basking shark if its by your boat and hit it with an oar, it will only take a bite out of your boat as one local coverack fisherman will tell u, if u manage to visit the paris hotel in coverack,

    • earner profile image

      Dedicated Content Curator 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Morgawr the sea monster has been spotted again .... LOL.

      Crealy Adventure Park now have a new Morgawr rollercoaster ride! Maybe now more people know about the Cornish monster, more will be looking for him with their video camera poised!

    • profile image

      Crealy 8 years ago

      Bosses at a theme park in Cornwall are saving the first ride of their new sea monster rollercoaster 'Morgawr' for real life monster spotters. The Crealy Park want people who have evidence of sightings to email and they will receive a free day pass as well as a seat on the exclusive first ride!

    • earner profile image

      Dedicated Content Curator 8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Yes, the table feature is handy. I used it for the first time here as I felt it summarised things nicely.

    • Ms Chievous profile image

      Tina 8 years ago from Wv

      Ohh I liked the use of the table to document the sightings! I thought about doing that in my hub

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      you do great research about Morgawr myth. I never hear d about this before. But I am familiar with Loch Ness. thanks for this information.

    • sabrebIade profile image

      sabrebIade 8 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Wow...if I had heard about Morgawr I had forgotten about it.

      Really nice Hub!