Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive on a canal boat at the Kelpies on July 5, 2017 in Falkirk, Scotland. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited the new section the Queen Elizabeth II Canal, built as part of the £43m Helix project which features the internationally-acclaimed, 30-metre-high Kelpies sculptures.
Sculptor Andy Scott (left) with Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh (back) as they visit The Kelpies sculpture near Falkirk to unveil a plaque to name the Queen Elizabeth II Canal that runs through the Helix development.
DOMINATING the skyline on the Forth & Clyde Canal, a pair of huge steel horses’ heads form a stunning landmark.
But few people realise the sculptures – called The Kelpies – are a poignant symbol of Scotland’s industrial past.
During the Industrial Revolution, working horses were a familiar sight on Scottish canals, pulling heavy barges laden with materials such as coal and iron.
Early inspiration for the Kelpies, one looking up and the other looking down, came from these heavy horses.
The striking 30-metre tall Kelpies have been created by Scottish sculptor Andy Scott and mark the gateway to a vast new recreational parkland, The Helix, in Falkirk.
This massive artwork will welcome boats as they journey between the River Carron and the Forth & Clyde Canal on a new 900-metre waterway extension.
But for most visitors, on foot on the towpath or travelling by canal, the wow factor of this new public artwork will be its sheer magnitude. In fact, the Kelpies claim the title of the world’s largest pair of equine sculptures in the world.
Featuring a steel frame and a network of 990 shimmering stainless steel panels, the horses’ heads also reflect the importance of a nearby ironworks.
Carron Iron Works was another vital part of Scotland’s industrial heritage and integral to the growth of Falkirk some 200 years ago.
Much of Scotland’s iron and steel industries, and their links to shipbuilding and international trade, owe their existence to the Forth & Clyde Canal. Glasgow sculptor Andy was also influenced by the legend of Carnera, a horse that was believed by locals to be the largest in the world.
Carnera is remembered for pulling his heavy cart of Irn-Bru bottles throughout the Falkirk area.
As for the name, The Kelpies, this is derived from ancient stories of mythical water horses.
Kelpies were said to have the magical ability to change shape and were reputed to have the strength of 10 horses.
Today this legendary strength and endurance provides the perfect representation of the transformational and enduring qualities of the modern Falkirk landscape.
For the Kelpies are at the heart of the £43 million Helix development, which has turned 350 hectares of under-used land into a vibrant visitor attraction. Read full report >>