The Pargan Kelpie

From Fox News
From Fox News

Several days ago this headline on Fox News caught my eye, Tourist captures image of mysterious sea monster off Grecian coastline.

Harvey Robertson was on a boat cruise off the coast of Parga, sailing through sea caves with his family. He was initially just trying to capture the unusual color of the surrounding water with his iPhone camera.

What he shot instead has baffled those across the Internet—and marine scientists. Looking back through his camera, Robertson saw that he had captured a grey creature that resembles an elongated manatee. The strange animal appears to pop out of the water in one photo, then disappears under the greenish water in the next.

Evidently Robertson, a Scottish tourist, didn’t realize he’d taken a picture of the animal until later. Fox joked that perhaps the Loch Ness Monster had followed him to Greece.

Having a lifelong interest in cryptozoology, I was fascinated by these photos and the fact that the creature was so curious– “just popping up to say hello!” And something about the creature seemed terribly familiar to me. Since I first read the story I went back and looked at the initial photo a few more times but didn’t read more about it. This morning I woke up, looked at it again, and it hit me– it looks like a Pictish beast. The snout, the eyes, the body length…

The Maiden Stone, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. From the Aberdeenshire Council.
The Maiden Stone, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. From the Aberdeenshire Council.

A little history– the Picts occupied the northern and eastern part of Scotland during the late Iron Age and earlier on in medieval times. The Romans called them the Picti, the Painted Ones. They were a fierce people who seemed to disappear or be absorbed by the Gaels about a thousand years ago. Several hundred stones carved by the Picts have been found and so there are multiple depictions of this mysterious creature along with others that are not easily identified. The Maiden Stone dates from the 8th or 9th century AD.

Nowadays we are quick to dismiss our ancestors’ “mythology” and so consign centaurs and dragons and Bigfoot to the realms of fantasy. We don’t care to explain why some of these creatures have been a part of many cultures planet-wide and how their stories have been passed down to us over thousands of years. We (ahem) enlightened modern humans tend to laugh off what we haven’t seen when it’s actually hilarious how little we know about our world. We remain largely ignorant about what lurks in the deep oceans and dark jungles. Perhaps Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World wasn’t so far off.

Given the depths genetic experimentation has already sunk to, mixing human and animal genes, pirating parts from unborn children, and generally playing God in ways that could be grossly misused (hybrid armies?), it’s plausible that a rearranging of our fundamental building blocks has been attempted before. Some believe that aliens manipulated our genomes in the past. Others believe that a certain fallen angel and his doomed legions (greys) have been trying to alter God’s design for their own purposes since the beginning, requiring purges like a worldwide flood (Noah’s ark) and the Israelites’ orders to destroy certain peoples, including giants.

Pictish Beast 2
From the BBC

I don’t think this animal is a result of genetic tampering, but could just be another of the wonders of God’s creation. If this creature is real, it’s amazing. I look upon the staggering beauty and diversity in our world that was all designed to work together and marvel over how much fun the Creator must have had cooking it all up. Mathematically it’s impossible for all of this to have evolved, from nothing, by chance, even over billions and billions of years. As C.S. Lewis said, “If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe– no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house. The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would be inside us as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way. And that’s just what we do find inside us.”

So to automatically dismiss the existence of a creature like the Pictish beast is arrogant. Anything is possible with an unlimited Creator and what’s real isn’t limited to what we’ve personally seen. Who’s to say that what’s also referred to as the Pictish dragon or Pictish elephant couldn’t have migrated to warmer water over the centuries– or maybe this is a cousin that’s been there all along. I’ve always thought this animal was a water beast because of its posture and appendages. Depictions of it aren’t limited to the seashore; the Maiden Stone, for example, is inland in Inverurie, which is near a major river. You can see the Maiden Stone in 3D here (note the centaur-like figure too).

Pictish Beast 1

We have porpoises, manatees, and dugongs, so why not this guy? If he’s like them, he’s probably highly intelligent, and his ancestors likely interacted with people in the past. Maybe he was swimming along and was stirred by some ancient memory of getting a free snack from the odd-looking long-limbed things in the boat. It’s amusing that this tourist in Greece was Scottish because nearly every Scottish body of water of any size has a kelpie legend associated with it. Kelpies are also called water horses and in some stories have the ability to change into human form. For centuries the Scots and others have been seeing something, and while facts can be exaggerated, I believe something actually existed or perhaps still exists.

Ultimately I hope this photo can be proven to be unaltered so that it gives us all a better appreciation of our neighbors on this fragile ball. We, here, now, are the remnants of an ancient original design that through our own choices and bad influences has become flawed. Maybe this guy’s a holdout, a survivor, part of a group that’s smart enough to generally avoid humans to preserve themselves (note that he was in a cave). He might look just like his kind did hundreds or even thousands of years ago, back in the days before cameras when Pictish artists would carve their likenesses into pillars of rock. Maybe only the females have the ponytail. Clearly creatures like this were important to the Picts, important enough to include in a message transmitted through time, one that would someday reach us and say, “don’t be so quick to scoff at what we knew all along.”

From The Heroic Age, Pictish Art and the Sea, by Craig Cessford, University of Cambridge. Simplified illustration of some dragonesque brooches from Scotland, the Mortlach 2 symbol and some Pictish Beast symbols (based mainly upon Allen and Anderson 1903, vol. III and Kilbride-Jones 1980).
From The Heroic Age, Pictish Art and the Sea, by Craig Cessford,
University of Cambridge. Simplified illustration of some dragonesque brooches from Scotland, the Mortlach 2 symbol and some Pictish Beast symbols (based mainly upon Allen and Anderson 1903, vol. III and Kilbride-Jones 1980).


Read more about the Pictish beast in Craig Cessford’s Pictish Art and the Sea.


What can be more foolish than to think that all this rare fabric of heaven and earth could come by chance, when all the skill of art is not able to make an oyster! -Jeremy Taylor


©2015 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/

2 thoughts on “The Pargan Kelpie

  1. Having taken the photographs, I can assure you they are real. Living in Scotland ,I can think of places a lot nearer to home to make fake photographs.


Seriously, what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s