Horse News

100-foot-tall horse head sculptures unveiled in Scotland

by as published at

The “Kelpies” are a tribute to Scotland’s horse-powered history

Equitecture: Sculptor Andy Scott stands with Clydesdales Duke and Baron, which served as models for The Kelpies.

Equitecture: Sculptor Andy Scott stands with Clydesdales Duke and Baron, which served as models for The Kelpies.

If you thought Middle Earth’s enormous statues of Isildur and Anarion were cool, Scotland now has something that’s nearly as badass.

They may not be as imposing as the Argonath, but the 100-foot-tall horse heads known as The Kelpies are still out of this world.

Created by a team led by Glasgow sculptor Andy Scott, the heads are fashioned from 600 metric tons of steel and stand as a monument to working horses in Scottish history.

The Kelpies are located along the Forth and Clyde canal, a nod to a time when horses pulled barges through Scotland’s canals.

They also draw inspiration from Kelpies, which are magical, shape-shifting horses from Celtic folklore said to inhabit rivers, streams, and lochs.

Modeled on two Clydesdales named Duke and Baron, the sculptures guard a new branch canal that runs under the M9 highway, welcoming visitors to the region.

“The materials of the sculptures are deliberately those of Scotland’s former industrial heartland, steel construction on an architectural scale: equitecture,” Scott says in an artist’s statement.

“The towering horse heads will have an industrial aesthetic with structural columns and beams visible through the riveted laser cut steel plates of the skin, the manes rendered as geometric overlapping slabs of steel. The entire structures will be illuminated inside and out to create a stunning spectacle in hours of darkness.”

The Kelpies are slated to open to visitors in April 2014. Meanwhile, check out the eye-popping views of them in the video below.

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21 replies »

  1. Purdue University Has A Smaller Version Of This Statue (Westville, Indiana). I Wondered About It. Now It Makes Sense. Steel Industry Large Part Of Income/Tax Base, Agriculture Community. Thanks RT for Tying It All Together.


  2. amazing, beautiful and magestic..just like the horses are themselves. Pity we don’t honor and respect our horses enough here in the US to take care and protect the mustangs and all horses from going to slaughter..imagine if we did! What a beginning of a new caring respectful world we would be part of!


  3. They are so beautiful. Brought me to tears. I agree with Claire. I wish America would honor what the horse did to make this country.


  4. If we could just inscribe in huge letters somewhere on this fantastic huge horse heads sculpture – END HORSE SLAUGHTER


  5. Absolutely stunning, brought tears to my eyes. Scotland is my favorite country and I just did a presentation on Glasgow which included a little on their original “horsepower.” Now I MUST go back one day, to see this. Must be incredible at night.
    For what it’s worth, this tiny country is leading the world in reducing carbon emissions and already gets 40% of its electricity from renewable energy. Industrious, inventive, forthright folks, among the kindest I’ve ever met.


  6. The breeders in Scotland have shipped thousands of horses to slaughter this past several years. The bottom fell out of the horse industry including the racing industry and that is where most of them went. I think these horse heads show a very hypocritical side to this country and the artist. The two horses he is holding will probably end their lives in a slaughter plant. Princess Ann was again touting at the annual World Horse welfare meeting that horses in the UK would be better taken care of if they were worth something more to the owners. What she wants is for horses to be slaughtered in the UK and the meat sold locally. She even mentioned that the most expensive cut of meat in a French butcher shop was a piece of horse meat. I doubt it will happen in the UK anytime soon. She knows where all the show horses she used to ride eventually ended up.


    • Despicable unbecoming for A Princess, by her remarks she has just made a mockery of all Children’s story book thoughts , Shame on her !!!!!


    • Yes, that was exactly my point in stating that these 2 horse heads should be inscribed with a large sign saying END HORSE SLAUGHTER. If they think so much of their horses then they should not be slaughtering them! Hypocrites is right! That was my first thought upon seeing the article.


    • Barbara, I looked into this a bit. Scotland requires all horses born since 2009 to be microchipped, and to have ID papers which indicate if they are intended for human consumption or not. These documents must be signed before any medications can be administered by professionals. I’m sure there are scofflaws but it seems generally speaking that Scotland is way ahead of us on the issue of horse slaughter.*BADV624-0100.txt


  7. I read the other comments and now realize I was right not to trust them. Again: May they crash to the ground on opening day and smash everything around them. They have no right to honor these animals while continuing to slaughter them mercilessly for their own consumption. Sad because the statues are so awesome and I am hopeful that the artist who saw them majesty of these horses does not himself consume horse meat.


  8. Beautifully done statues. Maybe they will be an inspiration to the country & they will breed responsibly. Stopping the slaughter of horses.


  9. I would like to think that this is a step in the right direction for Scotland. It might not end it all at once, but I think bringing them out larger than life puts “horses” in everyone’s consciousness making people more collectively “aware”. It would be interesting to see if having the “Kelpies” there, changes people’s attitudes.


  10. If they are still slaughtering them and eating them then they are total hypocrites. I could care less how they are handling that business. They should not have that business to handle. Flaunting giant horse heads where one looks like it’s screaming could be our next campaign poster against slaughter.


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