The Scottish Laird and The Water Kelpie

It has always been said there dwelt in the deep lochs in Scotland terrible spirits known as Water Kelpies. One should take care when walking by these peaceful waters never to be temped to catch or ride any horse seen wandering along the edge of the loch.

These horse’s are often of a bright chestnut colour and have wonderful silver bridles and saddles embellished with precious stones. It is said that if you try to catch a Water Kelpie and you jump on its back it will carry into the depths of the loch never to be seen again. It has also been said that this evil spirit can be caught if you can get its bridle off its head. It will do anything to get its bridle back.

And so the story goes that a Scottish Laird wished to build for himself a great castle on top of a hill. He was to mean to pay for labourers to carry the stones. He did not like to part with his money, and so he looked around for ways to get his castle built for nothing.

It was one evening when dining with his wife he struck on an idea. He would capture a Water Kelpie and use the horse to carry all his stones up the hill. His wife shook in her shoes at the very thought of it. She begged him not to temp such a terrible spirit out of the loch. She said that ill would be born on all of them if such a thing was to be done.

“The Kelpie will cast a spell on us.” She howled.

But the mean old Laird was having none of it. He got a hazel frond and fashioned a cross that he nailed to the front door. Then he battened up all the windows leaving one at the rear of the house open enough for him to climb through. His wife ran up to her room and hid under the bed in terror.

Off the laird went with a large knife in his belt to the edge of the loch and there he sat and waited until the dusk. Suddenly he saw a ripple reach the shore line, the water parted and through the descending mist out of the loch rose a splendid chestnut horse, gleaming copper and gold with a handsome bridle of silver and a saddle encrusted with jewels. The Laird whistled under his breath for this was a truly magnificent creature, tall and strong, handsome and elegant. Anyone one would desire to ride this creature.

He waited the horse sniffed the air and began to walk gracefully towards some luscious grass. As the horse put his head down to crop the verdant turf the Laird leapt forward from behind a great rock and cut the bridle off the horse’s head. It fell to the ground and deftly the laird picked it up and ran home. The horse neighed, pawing with its foot. Without its bridle it could not return to the loch so it followed the Laird. The chase was on the Laird knew that he had to get back to the house climb in the back window and run upstairs. The Water Kelpie rushed to the front door and screamed to see the hazel cross and the door barred. The laird just made it through the open window before the horse lashed at him with its teeth in fury. The Laird shuttered the window and ran upstairs.

The beautiful chestnut horse ran round and round the house calling for its bridle to be returned.

“I will give you back your bridle it you carry all my stones up the hill on your back.”

The Water Kelpie had no choice but to capitulate. He became the slave of the Laird. Over the months it took to carry all the stones up the hill the horse grew thin and weak, its coat grew dull; its eyes lost their gleam. The once proud horse was skin and bones. It tottered with the last of the stones up the hill for the last time. The Laird, satisfied that his castle would be the finest in the kingdom took the silver bridle and gave it back to the Water Kelpie. He placed it on the Kelpie’s and head and kicked the chestnut horse and told it to go back to its watery home.

With all the strength the Water Kelpie could muster, it laid a curse on the Laird. Screaming out across the land for all to hear, he cursed and laird and his family forever.

Then the Water Kelpie turned and with its last strength it reached the edge of the loch and plunged into the black depths. And you know the curse held true. The laird grew old and senile, but his son died in a terrible accident. His wife died not long after the castle was finished and his daughter gave birth to deformed children one after another. Soon the line of the laird died out, but the story didn’t.

If you want to live and thrive let the Kelpie stay alive.