Heritage and Culture
Folklore Friday - The Kelpie
This shape-shifting water-spirit inhabits the lochs and pools of Scotland. Usually described as having a horse-like appearance, the Kelpie can also adopt a human form. There have been reports that, when taking human form, the Kelpie still keeps it's horses hooves, which has caused many of Christian faith to associate this creature with the devil. This can be seen in Robert Burn's poem 'Address to the Deil'.
Every sizable body of water in Scotland comes with its own Kelpie story, with the most extensive being those of Loch Ness. The most common water spirit in Scottish folklore, the Kelpie's aquatic habitat has been disputed by many throughout history. Some believe that the Kelpie is a lake-side dweller, living beside rivers, rather than under the water.
Usually described as a powerful, beautiful black horse, the Kelpie preys on humans it encounters. Some believe that Kelpies are lonely creatures, seeking human companionship, however others believe these creatures will take their victims into the water and devour them, throwing the entrails to the waters edge when they're done. The Kelpie's hoofs are reversed and it can extend the length of it's back, when in horse form, to allow it to take more than one rider into the water at one time.
One story goes that a group of children were playing on the waters edge at Loch Ness. As the water began to ripple and foam nearby, they glanced over to see a beautiful black horse trotting over to them from the water. Excited to see such a beautiful horse, the children stroked and circled it. Getting on it's back the children attempted to ride their new friend, however one child remained on the ground next to the horse. He looked up and reached to the creature's neck to stroke him. As he did so his hand became stuck to the horse's neck. Becoming terrified, the boy tried with all his strength to remove his hand from the horse's neck, but he was completely stuck. As the horse started to pull him, with the children on it's back, into the loch the boy decided that he must cut his hand off to escape. In doing to, the horse returned to the water, taking the children on it's back with it. In freeing himself, the boy ran to seek help, sorting out his severed hand and trying to get to the other children. Waiting at the waters edge for days, the boy was determined to find any sign of his friends, however the children were never seen again.