Monday, November 24, 2008
Kelpies at Falkirk
I'm still not convinced that having a pair of enormous kelpie heads operating a lock on the Forth-Clyde canal is a good idea. I always thought kelpies were malevolent beings, with a taste for drowning and eating people. Perhaps people don't believe any more, or, I suspect more likely, just don't know their own folklore. The photo is of the maquettes currently on display (from Falkirk Council website).
Stonehead made me think about this the other day with his tale of an each uisge and now the story in the Guardian reports on the next phase of the sculpture work.
It seems that the idea of a water horse spirit - in varied guises from downright evil to a bit mischevious, slightly different for each cultural group - is (or was) a widespread northern european belief. Some of the differences appear to be driven by the location of the people. For example the Kelpie of the Scottish lowlands prefers rivers, while the Each Uisge, the northern Gaelic variety, haunts lochs. Coastal peoples, such as the Manx and Cornish, have salt water versions. The Ceffyl Dwr of Wales appears in both fresh and salt water - it also doesn't appear to eat people, but will kill them.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this. The idea that so many of the Norse and Celtic cultures have such a similar belief intrigues me. I like it. I don't like the kelpies on the canal. That worries me.