The Murderous Water Horse of Scotland | My Little Kelpie

The Kelpie

The shadows of the rivers and lochs of Scotland tend to have a romance few can resist. The mist clings to the waters ever so gently and light always finds the perfect spot to dance across. However, other alluring things have been known to wander the banks of these bodies of water.

In fact, these beings are so common along the riversides of Scotland, there are few Lochs, rivers or moors who do not have a story pertaining to them. Beautiful to the eye on the surface, however, only their victims will ever know the ghoulish exterior that exists below the water’s edge.

This week we will be talking about the madly killer crazed water horse, known as the Kelpie. This malevolent being has plagued Scotland for centuries, with the first documented recollections of the beast appearing in the 6th century. As mentioned within the introduction, the majority of rivers, lochs and moors found in Scotland all have at least one kelpie inspired tale attributed to them.


As I have previously mentioned, the Kelpie is a water cryptid. But unlike other river dwelling beasties, it has no fins, nor gills or webbed feet. It doesn’t even have an abnormally long neck like its other famous Scottish cryptid counterpart. No, the Kelpie can best be described as a beautiful, strong, and majestic steed.

Yup, the Kelpie generally takes its form in the shape of either a black or white horse. However, from what I’ve read it seems to prefer black.

Another interesting thing to note about this cryptid’s appearance is that, even when on land, The Kelpie’s mane will always be dripping wet, as though it had just recently emerged from the water.

When you initially see the kelpie, you will think nothing more of it than it being a beautiful horse. However, when the creature enters into a pool of water, that is where the magic really happens – excuse the pun. You see, another notable thing about the Kelpie is that as soon as its tail touches water, it emits a sound similar to the ominous crack of thunder.

Then things proceed to get even weirder as the creature submerges itself. It has been reported than once fully submerged, the Kelpie will wail a dying wail – not too sure what this sounds like.

The Kelpie is rumoured to have the strength of ten horses and a stamina which seems to be unrelenting.

However, the horse is just the tips of the iceberg in the looks department of the Kelpie. But we’ll get to that shortly. First, we need to explain how the Kelpie traps its victims.

How The Kelpies Claim Their Victims

Now it has been said that there are three reasons for the Kelpie’s need to trap a human. Firstly, it seeks companionship. The second reason is a bit darker, as it is rumoured that all the Kelpie wants to do is murder people. Pleasant little thought that. The third reason however takes the cake, and that is, it seeks a combination of companionship and murder.

However, as you can imagine, it’s not too easy for a horse to grab a person. So how does this beautiful murder pony do it?

Well, the Kelpie’s skin is said to contain some horrifically splendid magical properties. For, as soon as you make contact with any part of the horse, your skin will become fused to its.

So often, people have recalled being tempted to touch the horse by a distant voice in their heads. Many people are driven with a deep urge to ride the steed. As soon as you sit on a Kelpie, its total curtains for you.

It has been reported that the Kelpie favours appearing to children in its horse form. It will only appear to adults as a horse when they are weary travellers, or unable to (or struggle to) walk. Often it has said a Kelpie will appear when a traveller is weary to cross a river. The sight of the horse is too enticing to pass up, so they gladly mount the steed.

But once upon the horse, the Kelpie – instead of crossing the shallows – immediately runs toward the deepest section of the body of water. There, the victim will be drowned upon its back.

In some accounts, it is said that the Kelpie will then devour all but the entrails of its victim (or victims, some Kelpies like killing in bulk). It will then spit the entrails of the deceased back onto shore for their bereaved families to find.

Other accounts of Kelpie victims merely say the person was never to be seen again. Few people have been known to survive their kelpie encounters; however, it is possible.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Remember I mentioned the Kelpie enjoys appearing to children in its horse form? Yes, my friends. This beastie is actually a shape shifter.

Various Human Forms

One of the most notable magic abilities of the Kelpie is its ability to shapeshift. And one of its preferred forms to take is none other than human. now there are three notable human forms of the Kelpie. So, if you see a person who fits any one of these three descriptions standing by a body of water, your best bet is to be hella rude and give them a wide berth while you peace the frak outta there.

The Sauvé Mister

First and foremost, we have the dapper gent. I’ve read different accounts of the Kelpies humanoid appearances. Some say it rarely appears as a woman, some say it’s a toss-up between both he’s and she’s. However, a notable adaptation of the Kelpie is the Sauvé gentleman.

And apparently the Kelpie gets the dream beau on point. You know the description ‘tall dark and handsome’? Well, that’s the approach the Kelpie sees fit to take when embodying a man. The only way a woman can tell the man is a Kelpie, is from the matted seaweed entangled in his hair.

The young, lordly looking man will wait for an innocent woman along the banks of a loch or river and will relentlessly flatter the maiden. The aim of the game here is for the Kelpie to ensnare the young lass into an unbreakable bond of mad infatuation.

However, this isn’t achieved through dashing good looks and a dapper appearance. When in the throes of flirting, the Kelpie will purposefully shed a single tear. As the tear rolls down his check, he asks the maiden to wipe the tear away. As soon as she touches the Kelpie’s tear, an almost unbreakable bond is formed between the pair.

However, the young maiden can break free from this bewitching spell. You see, a kelpie can only remain in human form whilst the sun is up – similar to mermaids in some accounts. When the sun sets, the Kelpie needs to be in water as it will change into its horse form.

It is imperative for the Kelpie to keep this transformation secret from his beloved, for if the girl sees the Kelpie in its horse form, the attraction will be instantly broken.

This account suggests the Kelpie seeks companionship; however, the other two human forms are not as kind as the jealous handsome man.

The Coy Siren

The next human form the Kelpie does or doesn’t frequent, who knows, apparently not even the Scottish do, is that of a beautiful, fair maiden.

The stunning woman is known to bathe naked in the shallows, playfully frolicking in the waters. She entices unsuspecting young men to join her for a swim.

As soon as they do, she being to draw nearer to the men, ever luring them into deeper water. Then, when things start getting physical, and the young man thinks he’s getting lucky, he has no idea how unlucky he’s about to be.

Suddenly, the sweet siren will drag the unsuspecting, testosterone fuelled man under the waters, drowning him.

The Hairy Brute

This is possibly the most disturbing human form the Kelpie adopts. The hairy man is a ghastly sight, appearing as a stocky, thick set, naked hairy man. The brute will jump out at unsuspecting travellers – male or female. He will quickly scoop them up into his powerful arms, and crush them, squeezing the last breaths of life from their bodies’.

Apparently, the Kelpie has no time for enticement or niceties by this point.

Notable Magic

So, as mentioned, the Kelpie isn’t just a wet horse with a taste for human flesh. No, this beast is riddled with magic, and not the good kind.

Kelpies are said to have various magical talents in the waters. For example, it is known that Kelpies can run on the surface of water, until they choose to sink. This is helpful when tricking humans who may be riding on their backs. The human is led into a lull of false safety before suddenly sinking into a watery grave.

The next power known to be possessed by a Kelpie is a little more brutish. A Kelpie is said to be able to control the tides of any body of water. They can create waves to wash unsuspecting humans into the deep, drowning them as they do so.

Finally, and as previously mentioned, the most notable form of magic practiced by the Kelpie is shape shifting.

Most Famous Tale Of The Kelpie

So, one of the most notable stories of the Kelpie is both a victory and tragedy. One day, a Kelpie came across a group of ten young boys, all the sons of notable elders and chieftains of their village. The Kelpie, appearing to them in horse form, enticed the youths to climb upon its back. All but one boy gladly mounted the horse. However, one boy, the eldest of the ten, was wary of the strange beast.

The kelpie began to chase the boy, and, after some time, managed to gain his trust. The boy reached his hand toward the Kelpie, and the horse quickly pushed its muzzle to the boy’s outstretched fingers. Suddenly, the boy was fused to the horse’s skin. With that, the Kelpie took off racing towards the waters. As it ran into the water, the boy began to saw through his fused fingers with a knife from his pocket.

Although in immense amounts of pain, the youth continued, until he was at last free. The Kelpie cut its losses, and continued into the deeps with the other children on its back still, squealing with delight, entranced by the Kelpie’s spell.

How To Trap A Kelpie

Kelpies can actually be trapped believe it or not.

Some Kelpies appear with a saddle and bridle. It is said, that if you manage to grab and control the bridle of a Kelpie, you will harness control over the beast and all Kelpie alike. It is rumoured that the McGregor clan are still in possession of a kelpie bridle.

In human form, a Kelpie can be trapped by wrapping it in chains.

The capture of Kelpies is notorious in Scottish folk lore. Many a castle has been attributed to the brute force of a Kelpie. One such famous castle is the House of Murphy. However, Kelpie masters beware.

It is said that if you use the power of a Kelpie to do your bidding, you, and every seat of your clan, thereafter, will be cursed.

How To Kill A Kelpie

If you somehow don’t manage to grab the bridle of the demon horse, fear not, you can actually kill a kelpie. However, I’ve only found two ways to do so. In one account, a kelpie was murdered by a man who stabbed the beast. In other accounts, it is rumoured that a Kelpie can only be killed with the shot of a silver bullet.

When a Kelpie dies, it is rumoured that the body transforms into a blob of goop – similar to a jelly fish.

The Statue Tribute

So initially when I heard of the Kelpies statue in Falkirk I thought it would be a bit weird to dedicate a 30 foot tall statues to two heads of a malevolent horse demon that has plagued your community for centuries. But what do I know, I’m not Scottish? According to the artist behind the whole endeavour, a gent by the name of Andy Scot; “The original concept of mythical water horses was a valid starting point for the artistic development of the structures.” He also noted that he “took that concept and moved with it towards a more equine and contemporary response, shifting from any mythological references towards a socio-historical monument intended to celebrate the horse’s role in industry and agriculture as well as the obvious association with the canals as tow horses”.

I’m guessing that’s obvious to the Scots as we don’t really have a history of canal tow horses here in SA.

However, it’s interesting to see how the Kelpie has been celebrate and steered away from the malignant history associated to it.

They are magnificent.

Is The Kelpie A Fairy Or Not

Ok so I know this week is dedicated to the fairy folk of the world. So is the Kelpie a bloody fairy or not? In some accounts, the Kelpie has been described as a fairy. Whereas in other renditions of the beast, it is described more as a demonic, evil, the end of the world is nigh kind of being.

However, some account so it being a fairy are good enough for me. And personally, between you me and the wall I don’t mind a weird demonic pony being deemed as a fairy. Evidently fairies are pure evil based on the last one we covered. (the Red cap… if you don’t know shame on you and go listen now).

What Actually Is This Monster

So, if it’s not a fairy, what is a Kelpie?

A common belief is that the Kelpie was nothing more than a wide spread, cautionary tale for young and old alike. People believe the tale of the Kelpie was told to children to keep them from playing near deep waters.

In the same right, young women were warned against the advances of lude, forward gentlemen.

Could there be a murderous pony on the loose with skin so sticky it could fuse itself to its prey?

Well it wouldn’t be the first animal fusion to be documented. Yup, in the depths of the ocean lives one of the most gruesome looking fish imaginable. If you’re ready for a good nightmare, go and Google this ugly bastard. There are 300 different variants of the angler fish species, said to live in the deepest chasms of our oceans to shallower waters near beach fronts. Anyway, the angler fish is known for its bizarre mating rituals. You see, they take the whole “he’s my other half” to a whole new level.

To quote the guys are Wired, “Boy meets girl, boy bites girl, boy’s mouth fuses to girl’s body, boy lives the rest of his life attached to girl sharing her blood and supplying her with sperm. Ah, a tale as old as time.”

Yessiree, the Angler fish species have one mate for the rest of their lives and they are literally bound in an unholy matrimony as long as they both shall live. The fusion is achieved by a certain enzym released by the male fish, causing the skin of his mouth to literally digest with the skin of the female’s body.

So perhaps the Kelpie is just a bigger, more grotesque Angle Fish whose skin produces that same enzyme? It has been said that sometimes, people have viewed the Kelpie’s teeth to be abnormally long and sharp.

While I do struggle to believe that a murderous magical water horse exists, there are a few things that lend towards its story.

If it is a cryptid, it has no prejudice as to who it kills. From the lame and weary to bold strapping men , to damsels in distress, to unsuspecting children, no one is safe around a Kelpie. Which is a point in its existence’s favour. A predator is a predator is a predator. No matter who or what you are, if you move and its hungry, it’ll hunt you.

Another thing in the Kelpie’s favour are the amounts of stories surrounding the beast. Look, I understand that a tale could be widely spread and adapted to the folk of the area. But that A LOT of Kelpie accounts.

The thing that loses me however is the beastie’s magical attributes.

So, according to me, perhaps there was a predatory horse that was eventually hunted out by early clans. There are far too many tales of the Kelpie to not be believed.

As I always say, where there’s smoke, there’s a fire.


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