The Story of The Kelpies

From dream to reality, find out about the history of The Kelpies and how they were built.

The Kelpies are rooted in Scottish history and heritage. Take a trip back to the late 18th and early 19th century and you would have heard the clip-clop on the towpath of heavy horses, the inspiration behind The Kelpies, efficiently drawing barges of iron ore, coal and goods from Falkirk’s world- famous Carron Iron Works along the canal to the bustling industrial hearts of Edinburgh, Glasgow and beyond.

Inspired by these heavy working horses of industry and the mythical horses which had to be tamed to offer safe passage across water, The Kelpies were born. Scottish Canals commissioned artist Andy Scott, already well-known for his signature sculptures of working horses, to develop ideas and sketches to take the original, two-dimensional Kelpie concept into a truly new dimension. With funding from Big Lottery Fund’s Living Landmarks Award and a partnership with Falkirk Council, a leisure and recreation space with a new canal link between the Forth & Clyde Canal and the River Carron was developed, with The Kelpies at the heart of the venture.

Construction began in late 2013 and it took just 90 days for 30,000 pieces of this giant puzzle to be painstakingly slotted into place. It was clear from the moment that the first bit of steel was placed in the ground that they would dominate the landscape.

The extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal and The Kelpies Hub turning pool were then filled with water, and opened to boaters on 21st April 2014 – the same day The Kelpies were opened to the public. The Kelpies were officially opened by HRH Princess Anne on the 8th July 2015.

Now one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions, more than two million people have stood in the shadows of The Kelpies since their construction.

Read the full story of The Kelpies in our guide book, available to purchase now