The Kelpies Origin
Chosen by Scottish Canals at the inception of the project,
The Kelpies name reflected the mythological transforming beasts
possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses; a quality that
is analogous with the transformational change of our landscapes,
endurance of our inland waterways and the strength of our
Andy Scott's vision for The Kelpies follows the lineage of
the heavy horse of industry and economy, pulling the wagons and
ploughs, barges and coalships that shaped the structural layout of
the area. Retaining The Kelpies as the title for these equine
monuments, Andy sought to represent the transformational and
sustainably enduring qualities The Helix stands for through the
majesty of The Kelpies.
Sculptor Andy Scott on the artistic purpose and intent of The
"The artistic intent is built around a contemporary sculptural
monument. Water-borne, towering gateways into The Helix, the
Forth & Clyde canal and Scotland, translating the legacy of the
area into proud equine guardians."
Through artistic evolution and engineering design, The Kelpies
sculptures evolved to fulfil the promise of the original
"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." says Andy.
"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.
I wrote of working horses. Of their role in the progress
of modern society, as the powerhouses of the early industrial
revolution, the tractors of early agriculture and, of course, the
first source of locomotion for barges on the Forth & Clyde
canal, which The Kelpies will soon inhabit.
Falkirk was my father's home town and that
inherited association to the town has been one of my driving
inspirations. A sense of deep personal legacy has informed my
thinking from the outset, with old family connections anchoring me
to the project."
Drawing from the horse powered heritage of the area,
Andy directs our attention to a local story:
"The Clydesdale horse Carnera once pulled the wagon for local
soft drinks company A.G. Barr in the 1930's. Carnera was the
biggest working horse in the world apparently, standing over 19
hands high. Pulling three ton wagons full of soft drinks famously
Made in Scotland. From Girders."
The materials that constitute the finished Kelpies are
deliberately those of Scotland's former industrial heartland, steel
construction on an architectural scale or 'equitecture', as Andy
refers to it.
"I see The Kelpies as a personification of local and national
equine history, of the lost industries of Scotland. I also
envisage them as a symbol of modern Scotland - proud and majestic,
of the people and the land. They are the culmination of
cutting edge technology and hand crafted artisanship, created by
our country's leading experts through international
They will elevate Falkirk and Grangemouth to national and
international prominence and foster a sense of pride and ownership.
As a canal structure they will partner the iconic Falkirk Wheel,
and echo its grandeur. They will stand testament to the
achievements of the past, a tribute to artisanship and engineering
and a proud declaration of intent for the future of Scotland."