The Kelpie of Loch Coruisk

John Duncan (1866-1945), "The Kelpie"

Fairy Tale Day

Feb 26

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Fairy Tale Day
Snow White Strathspey
Fairy Tale Day
The Kelpie of Loch Coruisk
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Today's Musings, History & Folklore

“Rarely human eye has known A scene so stern as that dread lake, With its dark ledge of barren stone...” ~ Sir Walter Scott, 1814, describing a visit to Loch Coruisk

Loch Coruisk (Scottish Gaelic, Coire Uisg, the "Cauldron of Waters") is an inland fresh-water loch, lying at the foot of the Black Cuillin on the Isle of Skye, and is reputed to be the home of a kelpie, a water horse.

The Kelpie of Loch Coruisk

Loch Coruisk (Scottish Gaelic, Coire Uisg, the "Cauldron of Waters") is an inland fresh-water loch, lying at the foot of the Black Cuillin on the Isle of Skye, and is reputed to be the home of a kelpie, a water horse.   

 

Sir Walter Scott visited the loch in 1814 and described it vividly: 

 

“Rarely human eye has known

A scene so stern as that dread lake,

With its dark ledge of barren stone...”

 

Kelpies are mythological shape-shifting water spirits inhabiting the lochs and pools.  Though they are usually described as appearing as a horse, they are said to be able to adopt human form as well.

The kelpie is often described as a powerful and beautiful black or grey horse who preys on any humans it encounters and drags them into the water. An Aberdeenshire variation portrays the kelpie as a horse with a mane of serpents, whereas the kelpie spirit of the River Spey is said to be white and entices its victims onto its back by beautiful singing.

 

When kelpies take on the outward appearance of human figures, they may betray themselves by the presence of water weeds in their hair.  In their human form, kelpies are almost invariably male.

Almost every sizable body of water in Scotland has an associated kelpie tale. As with many fairy tales and folklore, the belief in malevolent water horses serves a practical purpose to warn children away from dangerous stretches of water, and to warn young women to be wary of handsome strangers.

 

Kelpies have been portrayed in their various forms in art and literature, and most recently in two 30-metre (98 ft) high steel sculptures in Falkirk, completed in October 2013.  Click the famous Falkirk Kelpies for an article.

To see the dance performed by The Red Thistle Dancers in 2007, click the video.

The Kelpie of Loch Coruisk
The Kelpie of Loch Coruisk

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The majority of dance descriptions referenced on this site have been taken from the

 

Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary or the

Scottish Country Dancing Database 

 

Snapshots of dance descriptions are provided as an overview only.  As updates may have occurred, please click the dance description to be forwarded to a printable dance description or one of the official reference sources.

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