According to Scottish legend, the Kelpie – or the water-horse – is a wholly supernatural creature that haunts the rivers, bridges and lochs of ancient Scotland and that has the uncanny ability to shape-shift. The most common form that the Kelpie takes is that of a horse – hence the name. It stands by the water’s edge, tempting any passing and weary traveler that might consider continuing on his or her journey to mount it. That, however, is always the fatal downfall of the traveler, as invariably the beast is then said to rear violently and charge head-long into the depths of the river or loch, and thus drowning its terrified rider in the process. Very notably, the Kelpie was also said to be able to transform itself into both a beautiful maiden, or mermaid, and a large, hairy man that would hide in the vegetation of Scottish waterways and leap out and attack the unwary, not unlike the Man-Monkey of the U.K.’s Shropshire Union Canal. For those who may not know, the Man-Monkey was an “anomalous ape” seen late one night on Bridge 39 on the aforementioned canal in January 1879.
With the above said, the Kelpie may simply be a denizen of the world of folklore and nothing else at all. But, maybe not. On this very important, latter point, it should be noted that the police in the vicinity of Bridge 39 had specifically associated the sightings of the Man-Monkey at Woodseaves in 1879 with the then recent death of a man who had unfortunately “drowned in the cut.” The several parallels with the world of the Kelpie are, without doubt, truly uncanny. It goes without saying that none of this proves Kelpies exist – either in the world of the normal, or even, indeed, in the world of the paranormal. It does, however, strongly suggest a belief in, and an outright acceptance of, Kelpie-like entities in rural Shropshire and Staffordshire by elements of the British Police Force, no less, in the latter part of the 19th Century – which is, without doubt, a revelation of a pretty extraordinary magnitude. It also suggests that if the latter day Man-Monkey reports are genuine (and I personally see no reason to dispute them or their attendant sources, having personally interviewed many of them), then far from being merely a harmless relic of centuries-old Scottish folklore, the Kelpie is still among us, still thriving, and still up to its infernal, and sometimes deadly, activities.
We should also note that the Shropshire, England village of Child’s Ercall has legends of a hairy wild man and a mermaid attached to it. And then there is Aqualate Mere, Staffordshire – which is very close to Woodseaves, the home of the Man-Monkey, no less – and also reputedly the lair of a beautiful mermaid. It must be said that sightings of predatory mermaids and magical maidens, as well as hairy monstrosities, are the veritable hallmark of the presence of a shape-shifting Kelpie, as well as being amongst its most preferred forms of...
By NICK REDFERN
To be continued