Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (S.W.A.C.S.)

Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (S.W.A.C.S.) Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society was formed on October 8th 1986 to protect and conserve the Wemyss Caves and their unique carvings www.wemysscaves.org

About The Society In September 1986 vandals drove a car from Buckhaven along the main road, down Jonathan’s Wynd and into the Cave where they set it on fire. This resulted in the destruction of the swan drawing. The swan is a part of the Wemyss Coat of Arms and represents a learned person. It has now been lost forever. This needless act of vandalism resulted in the formation of "Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society" or SWACS on October 8th 1986. The Society works for the preservation. of the Caves and their unique markings recording all aspects of the Caves and education about them. One of the Society's first successes resulted in the installing of a metal grille in 1988 to prevent access to Jonathan’s Cave. Kirkcaldy District Council, with a Manpower Services Team in conjunction with Historic Scotland, did this work. Tragically a few months after the grille was installed the high tides washed away 5 metres, 16 feet, of road and prevented access to the Cave. However Fife Regional Council stepped in and built a rough stone barrier, which has withheld the storms. This path allows visiting parties into the Cave to see the unique drawings, mainly Pictish but also what is either a Pictish or a Viking ship, said to be the oldest drawing of a ship in the country.

Operating as usual

20/10/2020

SWACS are looking for an Independent Examiner to check our accounting and Annual Returns Statements, to ensure that our records demonstrate an accurate account of the Society’s financial activities.

SWACS is both a Registered Charity and a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee (no share capital). Our income does not necessitate the services of a Chartered Accountant. Do you have a knowledge of accounting and financial record keeping? Would you be prepared to check ours? Currently everything is held as paper records in ledgers with about 250 transactions annually. This needs to be completed by the end of October / mid November and a modest remuneration will be made. Interested? Please contact [email protected]

13/10/2020

Can you help us with information relating to a cannon which may have been found many years ago at the Wemyss Caves?

One of our volunteers was recently told the story that Alex McNeill, whom older Wemyssers will remember as the Macduff postmaster, used to have a small cannon sitting in his garden at Main Avenue. Alex would tell anyone who was interested that the cannon had been dug up in, or near, the Wemyss Caves, but we do not know any additional details.

Perhaps you remember the cannon, or have heard other stories about where it came from, or know when it was removed from Alex’s garden, or, indeed, where it is now. If so we would love to hear from you.

01/10/2020

The Secret's Out! At the start of the year, before lockdown, we hosted Susan Calman as she filmed an episode of "Secret Scotland" set in and around Fife. Watch on Channel 5 at 8pm this Friday 2nd October and join Susan as she visits the caves and discovers what the Picts got up to. https://www.channel5.com/show/secret-scotland-with-susan-calman/

With #DigiDoorsOpen day this weekend we have some exciting tours happening - all socially distanced and safety precautio...
12/09/2020

With #DigiDoorsOpen day this weekend we have some exciting tours happening - all socially distanced and safety precautions taken of course.

It's going to be busy busy for our volunteers.

For those not able to come along we highly recommend the 4D website to explore around and if you want it guided we have a video on YouTube

https://youtu.be/5HMVnza_M4c

Update - the final tickets for Saturday have now gone. We still have a handful of tickets left for other dates until the...
14/08/2020
Wemyss Caves Pictish Carvings - Guided Tour and Museum

Update - the final tickets for Saturday have now gone. We still have a handful of tickets left for other dates until the end of September, and you can book those on the link below.

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Fancy a tour of the caves this weekend? We've had some late cancellations so can offer four spaces on this Saturday's tour. Advance booking is essential, and you can do that here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wemyss-caves-pictish-carvings-guided-tour-and-museum-tickets-93668445843

See the Pictish and other carvings on the walls of the Wemyss Caves on the Fife coast.

Macduff our resident bear has donned his face mask and is ready with the hand sanitizer for any visitors to come!! Thing...
03/08/2020

Macduff our resident bear has donned his face mask and is ready with the hand sanitizer for any visitors to come!!

Things are slowly but surely coming into place with tours last weekend and even more to come the following weekends.

If you want a place on our limited tours don't hesitate to send us a message to book a place!!

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes and are really happy to announce that we will be resuming tours of the caves o...
20/07/2020

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes and are really happy to announce that we will be resuming tours of the caves on 25th July. We’ve had to greatly reduce numbers and will initially only be open for one tour on Sundays and some Saturdays.

To keep everyone safe, we’ve made a full assessment of the risks and there will be some restrictions in place in line with Scottish Government regulations - notably the need to observe social distancing and wear face coverings inside the caves and visitor centre.

The visitor centre has been rearranged to create more space and we’ve cut back the vegetation around it so outdoor areas can be used.

At the caves, our volunteers have done great work tidying up and preparing the site to receive visitors again – we’re looking forward to meeting you!

There was a lot of great suggestions when we last asked you to create your own caption that we thought we would ask you ...
06/07/2020

There was a lot of great suggestions when we last asked you to create your own caption that we thought we would ask you again.

What would you caption this image as?

We are loving the archive and digging up images. Here we have some artwork by F Wynne titled Squally Weather.
03/07/2020

We are loving the archive and digging up images. Here we have some artwork by F Wynne titled Squally Weather.

We've had some more archive rummaging and there are loads of interesting photos hidden there.While this appears to be a ...
23/06/2020

We've had some more archive rummaging and there are loads of interesting photos hidden there.

While this appears to be a lads holiday what would you say this image is for? 🤔

We've been taking time to look through the archives and thought we could have a bit of fun.What would you caption this i...
01/06/2020

We've been taking time to look through the archives and thought we could have a bit of fun.

What would you caption this image as?? 🤔

Wemyss Caves on TV!Just before the current lockdown we hosted BBC's Landward programme for a tour of the caves.The story...
05/05/2020

Wemyss Caves on TV!

Just before the current lockdown we hosted BBC's Landward programme for a tour of the caves.

The story will be on their programme this week – which will be first broadcast at 8pm on Thursday on the BBC Scotland channel, then 9am on BBC 2 on Sunday 10th (Network transmission), then 7.30pm on BBC One Scotland on Monday 11th May. It will also be available on iPlayer shortly after broadcast.

03/05/2020
Recent Archaeological Discoveries at the Wemyss Caves

Join archaeologist Jo Hambly for a talk featuring the results from the 2019 community excavations when a team of volunteers from SWACS in partnership with the SCAPE Trust, University of St Andrews and with contributions from the University of Aberdeen carried out archaeological excavations in the Court Cave, Doo Cave and Sliding Cave, and the promontory adjacent to MacDuff’s Castle.

The investigations have shed new light on the timing and nature of the activities in the caves during the period when the Pictish symbols may have been carved. They have also revealed new information about the medieval uses of the caves and thrown up more mysteries to ponder.

Questions can be asked and answered during and after the talk.

01/05/2020

We have extended the closure of our public tours until at least the end of May, and have also decided to cancel our planned round of excavations which were due to take place this summer.

We'll be stepping up our online events though, and don't forget that this Sunday (3rd May) at 2pm you can see a presentation on our page of the results of last year's excavations - followed by a live question and answer session.

19/04/2020

SWACS "Ask Me Anything"

18/04/2020
Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (S.W.A.C.S.)

Our first ever live virtual tour happened on 5 April, but it is still available to view on this page if you didn't catch it.

There was such a lot of interest in the tour that we have decided to run an "Ask Me Anything" session to address some more of the questions that came in. This will happen on this page at 2pm on Sunday, 19 April. Just turn up here at 2pm and SWACS guides will be on hand to discuss anything to do with the caves - and please feel free to post questions in advance here and we'll do our best to answer them.

There will be more live events over the next few weeks including on Sunday, 3 May when Jo Hambly (SWACS, SCAPE Trust) will be giving a talk entitled Recent Archaeological Discoveries at the Wemyss Caves which features the results from the 2019 community excavations.

Look out for more details of that and more virtual tours themed to explore various aspects of the caves - one concentrating on the Picts, one on local traditions and legends and one on the Victorian exploration of the caves.

Recorded live on 5th April 2020. Please note that the tour starts 3 minutes 47 seconds in.

Tom (from the SCAPE Trust), captured this bird’s eye view of the Wemyss Caves coastline mid March with a drone as part o...
06/04/2020

Tom (from the SCAPE Trust), captured this bird’s eye view of the Wemyss Caves coastline mid March with a drone as part of SWACS annual monitoring of the condition of the caves.

This year, because of corona virus restrictions, the full monitoring may not be possible, so the drone survey will be incredibly useful.

We use the drone to take hundreds of photos which are then stitched together by Mike (SWACS Chair) to make an accurate model of the whole of the Wemyss Caves coastline.

This is the 4th year of the annual survey and we are building up a very detailed picture of how the coastline is changing.

We continue to carry out these surveys as best we can every year to see what is happening along the coast.

05/04/2020

A huge thank you to everyone who joined in for the tour today. There was nearly 300 of you!! Amazing!! We couldn't have asked for anything better.

For anyone who missed it you can watch the replay under the videos tab and for those who want to help support us you can have a look at our shop or simply donate through our website at https://wemysscaves.org/about-us/donate/

If anyone has any lingering questions feel free to put them in the comments. We're wanting to hold an Ask Me Anything and using #amaswacs to gather all the questions across all the social media platforms.

05/04/2020

Remember everyone, live Virtual Tour today at 2pm (BST for our further away fans). Don't want to be missed! 🏡🛋️

Remember everyone that we have this happening this Sunday. Nice to see that word is spreading - looks like we might have...
02/04/2020
Enjoy special tour of Wemyss Caves from home

Remember everyone that we have this happening this Sunday. Nice to see that word is spreading - looks like we might have a good audience ☺️

People are being invited to a special tour of the Wemyss Caves this weekend – and you don’t even have to leave your couch.

30/03/2020

Wemyss Caves virtual tour! We can't give tours to the caves in person, so join us next Sunday at 2pm for a guided tour around the 3D virtual Wemyss Caves via Facebook Live, with full commentary from a guide and a chance for questions. Learn about 10,000 years of history including the unique Pictish carvings.

This fascinating little piece of Wemyss history is now available in the SWACS online shop at www.wemysscaves.org. It is ...
25/03/2020

This fascinating little piece of Wemyss history is now available in the SWACS online shop at www.wemysscaves.org. It is a facsimile (reprinted in 1992 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Michael Colliery Disaster) of a booklet first published in 1933 describing the history and activities of the Wemyss Coal Company Ltd, with details of the geology, the seams being worked and the methods of working. A must for anyone interested in the story of mining in Fife.

16/03/2020

We have decided that we will be suspending all public SWACS activities until at the least the end of April.

Given that social distancing appears to be the best way to control the spread of the virus and that we have a duty of care to our visitors, volunteers and local residents we felt that this was the most responsible course of action.

The events that will be immediately cancelled are:

• the dedication of the memorial bench to Frank Rankin on March 21st
• the Archaeology report on March 27th
• all public tours and Open Days for April

Obviously, the situation is developing quickly and it may well be that we have to cancel events further into the future. We’ll make every effort to keep you fully informed of our plans, including rescheduled dates for the bench dedication and archaeology report.

We are currently looking into the possibility of running online “virtual tours” instead using our 4D website at http://4dwemysscaves.org where a guide will give an audio commentary as they take visitors through the site from the comfort of their own homes. Again, we’ll post more information as soon as we have it.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience this causes but hope everyone will understand that the health of our community comes above all other considerations.

Jo has spoken to the Scotsman and had this little article published revealing some details of the recent excavations and...
13/03/2020
Secrets of caves where Picts left their 'earliest carvings' to be unlocked

Jo has spoken to the Scotsman and had this little article published revealing some details of the recent excavations and "here we are looking at the development of Pictish symbol stones" at the caves.

More detail at our event on the 27 March (found on Eventbrite). Give it a read and come along to the talk!

https://www.scotsman.com/heritage-and-retro/heritage/secrets-caves-where-picts-left-their-earliest-carvings-be-unlocked-2448712

Archaeologists are set to reveal new findings made at a set of Fife caves where some of Scotland’s earliest Pictish carvings can be found.

Frank Rankin, who died in January 2019, was a founder member of SWACS and a well-known local figure who also gave his ti...
06/03/2020

Frank Rankin, who died in January 2019, was a founder member of SWACS and a well-known local figure who also gave his time freely to many other local heritage and community groups.

We would like to invite anyone who knew Frank, or would like to celebrate his work, to the dedication of a memorial bench in his name on Saturday 21st March at 1pm at Macduff Castle, East Wemyss.

In his guidebook to Macduff Castle Frank wrote:

“I wish that the story of Macduff Castle had a happier ending and my dreams had been realized with the whole area of the castle and the caves cleaned up and made into a beauty spot… maybe some day.”

As a small part of our ongoing commitment to carry out the work begun by Frank and others, we have recently installed picnic benches on site and will be dedicating the table sited next to Macduff Castle to his memory.

The dedication will be made by David Torrance MSP and will be followed by refreshments at the Wemyss Caves Visitor Centre, Terras Hall, The Haugh, East Wemyss KY1 4SB.

Please feel free to circulate this invitation to anyone else who you think may wish to attend.

Cave Tours 2020Last year we gave tours to around 1,400 visitors to the caves - and this year we're going for even more! ...
16/02/2020
Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society

Cave Tours 2020

Last year we gave tours to around 1,400 visitors to the caves - and this year we're going for even more! In addition to our normal Sunday opening, we'll also be giving tours on Saturdays throughout the school holidays along with other special events.

You can see our full range of events, and book for a tour, on our Eventbrite page at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/save-wemyss-ancient-caves-society-11265673534

Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (SWACS) are volunteers who work all year round to protect, preserve and promote the Pictish carvings and other important heritage at the Wemyss Caves in Fife.

You may have seen our upcoming event pop up so here are the details;John Borland is very kindly giving a talk which he's...
05/02/2020

You may have seen our upcoming event pop up so here are the details;

John Borland is very kindly giving a talk which he's titled "What can the images of armed nobles on Pictish sculpture tell us about their warrior society?" and here is the brief;

From the Annals of Ulster to the writing of Bede, the historical record tells us that the Picts waged war with the Scots, the Britons, the Angles, the Norse and often among themselves. Images of armed Pictish nobles adorn many sculptures and although they relate more often to the pursuit of hunting, they give a good indication of what a Pictish warrior looked like. Other sculptures depict hand-to-hand combat and even armies on the move and a few actually depict battle.

This paper was first delivered to the Society for Church Archaeology conference in 2018, the theme of which was The Commemoration of War to mark the centenary of the end of WWI.

The talk will be held at the Terras Hall and you can follow the event through the page or on Eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/images-of-warriors-and-war-on-pictish-sculpture-tickets-92734241613) for tickets. (Due to space at the hall we do have to limit the amount of visitors)

We've found this photo in the archives and have been told the boys are receiving their cakes. This makes us believe it's...
15/01/2020

We've found this photo in the archives and have been told the boys are receiving their cakes. This makes us believe it's part of Hansel Monday. We're also aware it was take in East Wemyss.

Does anyone know anything else about the photo?

We had a very successful Hansel Monday celebration. A huge thank you to everyone who came out to listen to our talk and ...
14/01/2020

We had a very successful Hansel Monday celebration. A huge thank you to everyone who came out to listen to our talk and poem reading.

The mulled wine/apple juice went down a treat and everyone received their cakes!

To fill the night we had our own Pam give us a talk about Hansel Monday (some quotes to follow), Dave read an excerpt from "Auld Hansel Monday" by Samuel Mucklebuckit (1892) and then sharing memories and stories of Hansel Mondays past.

SWACS hopes to see you throughout the year as well as next year when we hope to do something again for this old tradition.

07/01/2020
Handsel Monday

We hope everyone has had a good new year but are you aware of some other traditions around the change of the year?

Long before the New Year celebrations became popular in Scotland, Hansel or Handsel Monday was the principal Winter holiday and was held on the first Monday of the year following January 12th. Servants and other workers had the day off and were gifted small sums of money and treats, such as cakes and drinks by their employers, who also took on employees’ tasks for the day. The Hansel tradition survived well into the 19th century in Fife and Perthshire until being replaced by the New Year celebration. East Wemyss folk had their own way of celebrating which involved a procession to the now-closed Well Cave to sing hymns and partake of the health-giving waters of St Margaret’s Holy Well.

This year Handsel Monday falls next Monday 13th January, when SWACS will open the Museum and Visitor Centre to members and friends for an evening’s celebration of the old holiday including a talk on the Handsel tradition plus light refreshments. Please come along to share in this free festive treat, which we hope will inspire a revival and reworking of the Handsel tradition. Doors open 7pm for a 7.30pm talk.

For those interested in coming along - please note there is no visitor parking on The Haugh – please use Back Dykes or Main St for car parking.

https://vimeo.com/200016682

A short film about the traditional Handsal Monday procession that took place in the well cave.

Address

Terras Hall, The Haugh
East Wemyss
KY1 4SB

General information

Our Visitor Centre and Museum has comprehensive displays on the caves, Macduff Castle, Pictish art and local history. Refreshments and toilet facilities available.

Opening Hours

Sunday 13:30 - 16:00

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Comments

Saw this image on FB and thought it would look nice with a wee bit of colour on it.
https://www.facebook.com/stephen.black.104/videos/10217502785937671/ My son recorded some songs in the caves at the weekend and would like to organise a small socially distanced gig there, maybe as part of an open day or fundraiser? Do you think that is something that would be possible when Scot Gov gives the go ahead for outdoor gigs
I have never heard of these before. Look forward to exploring with you.....from Tayport, now in Melbourne Australia.
Could you post a link about your virtual tour to 'Auld Fife and Its People' Facebook group please? Sorry I don't know how to link this but I'm sure some of their members would be interested. 😄
Last week I did a lovely tour of the caves and I was speaking to the tour guide about what me and my family believe to be a ghost caught on camera in the first cave . We also heard a growl and were very spoked . The guide asked me to post the picture on the web site, so I hope this is ok . Believe what you will but we can she clearly an out line of a person
Thank you for the tour, talk, excellent company and the hard hat. We three girls from over the hill had a great time. Really glad I'm a vintage student with the UHI...now for the project.
Thanks so much to all the S.W.A.C.S volunteers for today. Was so interesting and it's imperative we keep history alive! Iona (budding Archaeologist) especially enjoyed it!
Well how pleased you must all be feeling. It would appear that todays festivities were well attended. Well done to all involved in getting this organised. I heard a few comments hoping that it would be an annual event. I think with a bit more advertising further afield this could become a well attended gathering. Well done again everyone xx
I have just received a flyer with a call for volunteers, and am therefore volunteering to help in any way I can! I'm in Coaltown of Wemyss so always on hand!
I would like to buy Dark Skies over school wynd.
I do some work as 'Fergus the Pict' in schools and museums and might be able to help. DO get in touch.
Hey guys, how would I be able to get involved? I.e. Volunteering?