Fife’s Pictish Cave Carvings

March 6th, 2013 § 0 comments

Fife – “a beggar’s mantle fringed wi gowd”. Only, some of the fringing has worn away and become a bit tatty and unloved. Driving from the East Neuk to East Wemyss, the neglect is evident when passing through former industrial towns such as Leven, Buckhaven and Methil. There is an excess of pebble dash. That’s not to say they aren’t interesting. Further on, there is Coaltown of Wemyss, West Wemyss and Dysart. I’ve often thought of Fife as an area of quite extreme contrasts, which to me is of interest. East Wemyss has a touch of gold about it, down by the shore, in the midst of a pebble dash estate, there is a series of caves, some of which contain Pictish (apparently), Viking and Christian carvings. What is so frustrating about this place is the seeming lack of care with which the caves are protected. There is no information on what you are looking at, no signposts (other than info boards that sit in the middle of the car park) – a bit of funding from the Lottery seems to have provided a couple of benches. The paths are neglected, there is no signposting coming from the East – there is even a lack of interest from kids, as I saw very little evidence of fires, used condoms (that doesn’t rule out unprotected sex, see Fife’s teenage pregnancy rates) underage drinking, drug taking etc etc. Apparently, in the 80’s some kids from Buckhaven drove a car down to the caves and set it alight, which damaged some of the carvings. Anyway, I can’t tell you much about the carvings, which are from what period. There does seem to be some local groups set up to protect the caves (see here and here) and I am sure they do their best, but these caves should have some sort of visible support from Fife Council, or SNH or something. I have a suspicion that if the caves were placed in a more geographically ‘golden’ area of the Fife coast, there would be more made of them, but as it is, perhaps it is satisfyingly Fife for them to be where they are, and how they are. Oh yeah, Time Team visited in 2004, you can watch the episode here.



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