The Kelpies (Falkirk, Scotland)

View of The Kelpies in the sky

Designed by sculptor Andy Scott and completed in 2013, The Kelpies is two, 30 meter tall sculptures of horse heads next to the Forth and Clyde Canal, near the River Carron in Scotland.  The name Kelpies was chosen for the mythological beasts that are said to have the strength of 100 normal horses.  Since the sculpture is the largest horse head sculpture in the world, I would hope that they were some special horses.  The original sculpture was created by Scott in his Glasgow studio in 2008 at a height of 3 meters.  These prototypes were digitally scanned making it possible for the fabrication team to perfectly recreate them in a much, much larger scale.

Scott said of his design that “During the conceptual stages, I visualised the Kelpies as monuments to the horse and a paean to the lost industries of the Falkirk area and of Scotland.” He further noted of his artwork that “The original concept of mythical water horses was a valid starting point for the artistic development of the structures, but from the original sketches of 2006 I deliberately styled the sculptures as heavy horses. In early proposal documents I referred to Clydesdales, Shires and Percherons, of the fabled equus magnus of the northern countries.”

The sculpture in a way, is an homage to the local and national history that work horses played in the industries that have been lost to Scotland.  In many ways, the industries built with the help of strong, sturdy horses has been lost to most of the world.

Visiting The Kelpies

The Kelpies are part of an ecopark and greenspace called The Helix.  The Helix covers 350 hectares between Falkirk and Grangemouth, connecting 16 local communities through an extensive network of paths.  Open year round from 9:30am – 5:00pm, the visitor center of the Helix is a hub for locals and tourists alike. While weaving a Scottish traditional theme through their food, the cafe at The Helix focuses on using locally sourced ingredients to make their fare.

The Kelpies Facts

  • During the first year after construction, almost a million people visited The Kelpies.
  • Built of structural steel with a stainless steel cladding, The Kelpies are each 30 meters tall and weigh 300 tons.
  • Construction began in June 2013, and was complete by October 2013.
  • The process of fabricating the steel for the sculptures took several years.
  • SH Structures, of Yorkshire, was responsible for the fabrication and on-site construction of the sculptures.