American author visits Wemyss landmark mentioned in her latest novel

Sue Hamstead (left) from SWACS and Almerican author Alice Ross (right) at Macduff Castle
Sue Hamstead (left) from SWACS and Almerican author Alice Ross (right) at Macduff Castle

An American author inspired to write about a historical Wemyss landmark in her latest novel has made a special trip to the site.

Alice W. Ross had featured one of the Wemyss Caves in her book ‘Message in the Skye’, but had never seen the caves in real life - until recently.

Alice carried out her research with the help of SWACS (Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society) and chose to set the climax of her novel in Jonathan’s Cave.

She was able to visit the site in the company of Sue Hamstead, SWACS tour guide, to explore the caves and see for herself the famous ancient Pictish carvings which inspired her work.

The author and her husband live in South Carolina, but were in Britain for a month-long holiday.

She said: “I truly love the people and the places where I have been.

“It is vastly different from where I live and yet there is so much beauty in each of them.

“It is wonderful how you can see such distances in the horizon. The rolling hills of Scotland, the vast lochs and glens are all so special to me.

“I will certainly look forward to coming back again.”

Sue told The Press it was a great pleasure to be able to meet Alice in person at last. She was delighted that Alice and her husband had found the caves so fascinating and were very appreciative too of the local history.

She said: “Alice and I exchanged many emails while she was writing her book and I sent many photos and verbal descriptions to give her as full a picture as possible of the place.

“The result was a very realistic and evocative scene-setting in her book and even a mention of the role SWACS has taken in protecting and preserving the caves.

“We were delighted that Alice’s book would be spreading the word about us and our work and about this very important piece of our heritage.

“I was thrilled to be able to meet Alice in person and to show her the caves for real.”

Sue said the number of visitors to the Wemyss Caves shows how valuable they are:

“When people come so far to see these caves it really brings home how important they are, yet sadly there are still those who light fires in the caves risking damage to the carvings and leave broken glass around risking harm to other visitors.”

She added: “We who live here all need to be vigilant in order to protect the treasure that’s on our doorstep and preserve it for future generations.”