The Wemyss Caves, Fife, Scotland

Walking is our main way of getting exercise but you get a wee bit fed up going to the same places all the time, so a couple of Saturdays ago we ended up going to East Wemyss (pronounced Weems) just for a change of scenery. Actually we started off in West Wemyss then went on to Coaltown of Wemyss and ended up at East Wemyss which is the location of the Pictish caves which are generally known as the Wemyss caves.

This is all part of the Fife Coastal Path as you can see from the map board. This area was mined for coal until quite recently and linen was also made here.

Map board at Wemyss, Fife, Scotland

The photo below is of the side of a rock face on the shore, but it isn’t solid rock, there’s a cave behind it, with the cave mouth facing out to the sea.
Rock face at East Wemyss.

THis is the cave which is in the rock and it’s one of a series of caves which were in use as long ago as Pictish times. There is some cave painting in some of them and it’s thought that they were not used as homes but were more likely workshops, possibly for people working with silver. The cave is actually much bigger than it looks here, it’s a deep and very high cavern. Apparently the Picts had warmer, drier homes nearby, which is just as well because as these ones are right by the sea they would have been very draughty and absolutely freezing at the best of times.

Wemyss cave

This is one of the smaller caves but it isn’t so easy to get to as it’s quite high up on a bank.
Wemyss Cave, Fife.cave

And the photos below are of the view which they had from the caves, I don’t suppose it will have changed much in the thousand years or so since the Picts inhabited the place.

You can just see the Bass Rock on the left in the photo below if you click on it to enlarge it. The rock is home to thousands of seabirds, and nearer the middle is North Berwick Law.

Time Team had a dig around the area a few years ago and if you’re interested you can see photos of what they got up to here.

10 thoughts on “The Wemyss Caves, Fife, Scotland

  1. It must be so nice to live in country so old. So much to see and enjoy. We do have some nice things here in America but nothing close to us, everything is long ways away and nothing as old yours!

    • Peggy Ann,
      I really want to go to Lewis to see the Callanish Standing Stones which you can see here. There are so many great things like that to see in Scotland but most of them are a long way from Fife, one day we’ll be heading north on our road trip of Britain. I’m relying on Evee for some tips for places to visit!

    • Margaret,
      I was amazed when I went over to the North Berwick side and the Bass Rock seemed to be just about as far away from this side, I imagined it would be much nearer.

  2. I didn’t know about these caves or about the Time Team dig! Fascinating. Silversmiths, eh? I wonder why they worked in the caves down by the shore?
    I had a several times great grandfather who was apparently a merchant in Wemyss, though in which one I don’t know.
    I must go and take a look at the Wemysses sometime.

    • Evee,
      Well it was silversmiths which were mentioned on one of the info boards, maybe the water was useful in metal work. I imagine the caves would have been a good place to drag boats into for safety when they weren’t being used for fishing. There’s not much going on now in any of the villages but I think they were probably thriving communities in the 18thC.

  3. Hi Katrina, There is a Gravestone in East wemyss cemetery designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which is beautifully carved & lettered ,well worth a wee jaunt tae the wemyss jist tae see this.

    • John,
      I’ll have to have a look for it next time we go there. I was thinking we looked around that churchyard but Jack says that it was a church in West Wemyss we looked at. It’s confusing.

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