To articulate the emotions that the Kelpies first elicited from me upon first seeing them spring out of the ground is not an easy thing for someone like me to do. As they took shape during the Autumn months of 2013, culminating in a topping out in November, they have grabbed the imagination of many people both locally in the Forth Valley and further afield in Scotland. The two horses are guardians of the entrance to the canal network of Falkirk, close to the River Carron.
Scottish sculptor, Andy Scott is the creator of these larger than life structures. They are modelled on real horses, or as a modeller like me would say the ‘full size thing’! At 30 metres in height, you cannot miss them when travelling along the M9. You cannot fail to be impressed by them and what they represent.
Kelpies, as the story goes, are mythical water-borne horse-like creatures of Scottish folklore. Real heavy horses played a major part in shaping the industrial landscape of the Central Belt too, where they were used as tow horses on the extensive canal network as well as other purposes.
The sculptures are beautifully modelled on Clydesdale horses…a tribute to the many work horses once used throughout Scotland. The scultures are huge and you are free to walk around and underneath them.
This selection of pictures was literally grabbed during a quick visit one evening in May. I say ‘grabbed’ because I spent more time with them than I anticipated. Given that it was late evening and a little chilly, there were a lot of locals and visitors walking slowly around the Kelpies, contemplating the sheer scale of the structures and taking in the atmosphere. Judging by the visitor numbers, they have truly grabbed the public’s imagination.
There’s another side to the Kelpies. Whilst they represent mythical Scottish culture and the immense industrial heritage of the Central Belt, the Kelpies are a pointer to the future – of what really can be achieved in a modern Scotland; a vision of a modern and inclusive country with plans for re-industrialisation but in a sustained way with the use of its renewable energy resources.
Many see the Kelpies as a symbol of hope for an increasingly progressive Scotland, one which, given a certain set of circumstances later this year, could leave the rest of the UK behind. With full economic and political powers vested in Holyrood, the massive economic and industrial potential of Scotland could easily become reality.