The Kelpies – Monuments to the Past and Future

Standing alongside the Forth and Clyde Canal as a tribute to the significant role played by horses in the development of Scotland’s industry, The Kelpies are two 30m tall horse-head sculptures created by renowned Scottish sculptor, Andy Scott. The sculptures were completed in October 2013 and it is anticipated that they will attract visitors to the area. A visitor center is planned as part of the project, scheduled to be opened in April 2014. A canal extension beside The Kelpies and visitor center will reconnect the Forth and Clyde Canal with the River Forth, thereby improving access between the west and east of Scotland.

Although the name Kelpies refers to a Celtic folklore tale of a supernatural horse that stalks the waterways of Scotland, the sculptor reportedly stated that this was not his inspiration. He said that he had a dual purpose in mind when creating the statues, being that they would be a ‘monument to industry’ and a ‘beacon of regeneration’.

Clydesdale horses played an essential role in Scotland’s economic development, pulling wagons, ploughs and barges, and the sculptures are modeled on two Clydesdale horses – Barron and Duke. They took seven years to create as part of a larger project aimed at transforming an area in the Forth Valley into a tourist attraction. Visitors will be able to go inside the statues to view the engineering and sheer scale of the them from this perspective, while being aware that each statue consists of up to 18,000 steel components. With the one horse throwing its head back and looking up, and the other looking down, the artist achieves what he states he set out to do – create a sense of dramatic tension between the two horses.

The 350 hectares of land earmarked for the project, dubbed The Helix, lies between Glasgow and Edinburgh, making it an ideal stopover or day trip spot for tourists exploring the area. So be sure to add a visit to The Kelpies to your itinerary when visiting this spectacular region of Scotland.

Photo attribution: The Helix (Wikimedia Commons)