Unraveling the Mystique of Kelpies and Unicorns
Scotland has a rich tradition of myth and folklore that spans centuries, from the Loch Ness Monster to the haggis, and everything in between. Two of the most famous and enduring mythical creatures of Scotland are Kelpies and the Unicorns. These creatures have captured the imaginations of people around the world, and have become symbols of Scottish identity and culture. These Scottish folklore abounds with tales of unicorns, representing purity and power. Only a King could hold them captive, making them a symbol of royal authority. Since the Middle Ages, Scottish monarchs have used the unicorn in their coat of arms, and in the 15th century, it became Scotland’s national animal. The royal coat of arms depicted two unicorns bound by a golden chain, symbolising their strength. However, after the Union of Crowns in 1603, one unicorn was replaced by the English lion to signify unity.
Let’s explore the stories of the Kelpies and Unicorns, their origins, and the role they play in Scottish folklore and national identity. Whether you’re a lover of mythical creatures and legend, or just curious about Scottish culture, read on to discover the magic and mystery of these mythical creatures.
Story Behind The Kelpies:
Scotland is a land rich in history, culture, and tradition. From the rolling green hills to the rugged coastline, there is no shortage of breathtaking scenery to admire. But perhaps what sets Scotland apart is its folklore and mythology, which is deeply ingrained in the country’s identity. One such mythical creature is the kelpie, a shape-shifting water spirit said to inhabit Scotland’s lochs and rivers. According to legend, the Kelpies would appear as magnificent, powerful horses near rivers, streams, and lochs, often appearing as if they were lost or in need of help.
When an unsuspecting person approached to offer assistance, the Kelpies would use their charm to coax the individual onto their backs. Once the person was securely seated, the Kelpies would gallop into the water, dragging the victim beneath the surface and drowning them. While some may find the legend of the kelpie fascinating, others are afraid of them due to their reputation for luring unsuspecting victims to their watery demise.
Despite this, the kelpie remains an important part of Scottish folklore and continues to be celebrated in art and literature. The kelpie serves as a reminder of Scotland’s rich history and the enduring power of myth and legend.
The legend of the Kelpies has been told and retold for centuries in Scotland, with various versions emphasising different aspects of the creatures’ character and powers. In some stories, the Kelpies were said to be shape-shifters, able to take on human form to seduce and deceive their victims. In other words, the Kelpies were depicted as malevolent beings that took pleasure in causing harm and suffering to humans.
Whereas, the Unicorns are a mythical creature that has captivated imaginations around the world for centuries, but it is perhaps most closely associated with Scotland. According to legend, the Unicorn is a horse-like creature with a single spiral horn protruding from its forehead, and is known for its purity and magical powers.
The story of the Unicorn in Scotland dates back to the 15th century, when the creature was first depicted in the Royal Coat of Arms of Scotland. The Unicorn was chosen as a symbol of strength, purity, and nobility, and was believed to be the natural enemy of the lion, which represented England.
The Unicorn became a powerful symbol of Scottish identity, and was used to represent the country in literature, art, and national iconography. At Stirling Castle, the ‘Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries showcase the Scottish unicorn heading north-west. These hand-woven recreations of ‘The Unicorn Tapestries’, considered one of the most valuable artworks of the late Middle Ages, have gained much attention. While the original tapestries are now exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the unicorn figurehead of HMS Unicorn in Dundee, one of the oldest warships globally, is proudly displayed.
In Scottish folklore, the Unicorn was believed to be a magical creature that could only be captured by a maiden. According to legend, a maiden would sit in a field, holding a mirror to lure the Unicorn towards her. Once the creature saw its reflection, it would become captivated, and the maiden would be able to capture it.
Unicorn Depictions in Edinburgh and Beyond
While unicorns are mythical creatures and cannot be found in Scotland, you can spot many depictions of them in different shapes and sizes while exploring Edinburgh. The Royal Palace of Holyrood house, the Queen’s official residence, has a heraldic shield at its gateway featuring a unicorn, and you can also find unicorn carvings on walls and plaster ceilings throughout the city. Edinburgh Castle, the National War Memorial, and St. Margaret’s Cathedral are just a few places where you can find unicorn sculptures. Additionally, St. Giles Cathedral has various Victorian wood carvings with hidden unicorn designs, including one with a fish-like tail. You can also see unicorns on top of market crosses in many Scottish towns and cities, such as Glasgow, Culross, Prestonpans, Dunfermline, and Falkland.
Kelpies and Unicorns Shaping the Nation's Identity
The Kelpies and Unicorns are both iconic symbols of Scottish culture, and have played important roles in shaping the country’s identity and folklore.
For centuries, the Kelpies have been used to warn people of the dangers of water, and to remind them of the need to be cautious and vigilant. The Kelpies have also been seen as symbols of Scotland’s wild and rugged landscape, and have been celebrated in art, literature, and music as representations of the country’s natural beauty and power.
Similarly, the Unicorn has played a central role in Scottish culture, serving as a symbol of strength, nobility, and purity. The Unicorn has been used to represent Scotland in various contexts, from the Royal Coat of Arms to the national rugby team, and has become a powerful emblem of Scottish identity and pride.
Both the Kelpies and Unicorns continue to be celebrated in modern Scottish culture, with numerous festivals, parades, and events dedicated to these mythical creatures which are renowned by the name of Scottish Monsters as well. In recent years, the Kelpies have become a major tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the world to marvel at their size and beauty. The Unicorn has also seen a resurgence in popularity, with merchandise featuring the creature appearing in stores across Scotland and beyond.
Most Enduring And Beloved Mythical Creatures In Scotland!
The Kelpies and Unicorns are two of the most enduring and beloved mythical creatures in Scottish culture. These creatures have played important roles in shaping the country’s identity and folklore, and continue to captivate and inspire people around the world. Whether they are seen as warnings of danger or symbols of strength and purity, the Kelpies and Unicorns remain powerful emblems of Scotland’s natural beauty and power. Undoubtedly, these Mythical Creatures are at the Heart of Scottish Culture and Identity. Discover the enduring allure of the Kelpies and Unicorns, two mythical creatures deeply embedded in Scottish folklore.
According to legend, Clan MacGregor once captured a kelpie in Loch Slochd, and used its legendary strength for agricultural work after removing its bridle. These powerful creatures continue to inspire and captivate people worldwide, serving as a reminder of Scotland’s rich history and enduring spirit.As Scotland continues to evolve and change, these mythical creatures serve as a reminder of the country’s rich history and enduring spirit, and will undoubtedly continue to be celebrated for generations to come.
Frequently Asked Question's
Kelpies are Scottish water spirits that can shape-shift and are often depicted as horses. They represent the power and danger of nature and can foretell disaster or death.
Kelpies are not unicorns. Unicorns are mythical creatures with a single horn, while Kelpies are either water spirits or a breed of dog developed for herding sheep.
The Scottish unicorn is known as the “Unicorn of Scotland” and is a national symbol of Scotland. It is featured in the Royal Coat of Arms of Scotland.
The Scottish myth of the Loch Ness Monster is about a legendary creature rumoured to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands, which has become famous globally.