The Kelpies of Scotland

Morgan Reece is a student at the University of Kentucky and an ISA Photo Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Reading, England.


The Kelpies are 30-meter tall horse head sculptures that embody the steel industry that equines and humans of industrial Scotland built the country upon. The horses are sculpted after two real horses that worked in Falkirk, and are now happily retired after being the muses for this project.


Andy Scott, who wanted the end product to be a monument to the horse-powered heritage of Scotland, sculpted the Kelpies. The sculptures opened in April 2014 and are an extension of the Forth and Clyde Canal. The original concept was based off the story of mythical water horses called Kelpies.  They were said to have the strength and endurance of ten horses, a detail that is analogous to the canals of Scotland that are said to have been a transformational and enduring change to Scotland’s waterways. The Kelpies were supposedly creatures that took the shape of a horse in order to capture humans and drag them to the deep of the ocean. Once a human sat on its back, the human would then be trapped in a type of slime on the creatures back–the creature would then leap into the deep carrying the human on their back, and as the Kelpie leapt into the deep with the human, a crack of thunder would be heard from miles afar.   The irony of this story is that today during a tour it is possible to go inside the Kelpies and see them from their gargantuan metal insides, just as the humans who would have been captured by the mythical Kelpies would have also seen the insides of the Kelpies that captured them, although in an entirely different way.


It is easy to get to Falkirk to visit the Kelpies, as they are somewhat between Glasgow and Edinburgh. The train ticket to reach them from either location costs the same, and the tour can be bought online or in person at the visitor’s center. The Helix park offers many little places to grab a snack and some souvenir’s from the park and from the Kelpies. It also offers other attractions that can be found on their website as well as a two mile walk to the Falkirk Wheel which is a rotating boat life that is 35-meters high.


The final result of the Kelpies according to Scot was intended to be, “Water-borne, towering gateways in The Helix, Forth and Clyde Canal and Scotland, translating the legacy of the area into proud equine guardians.” While the sculptures are fairly new, in 2014 there were already 1 million visitors to the stainless steel, 300 tonne horse heads.


The world awaits…discover it.

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