Councillor critical over Wemyss Caves

Wemyss Caves are in danger.
Wemyss Caves are in danger.

A Fife councillor has called on the Scottish Government to do more to support Wemyss caves.

Cllr Tom Adams made his comments as the Levenmouth Area Committee approved plans for the future of the caves.

The plan, drawn up by the Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Group, aims to conserve the caves, which are in serious danger due to coastal erosion, and make them more accessible to the public.

Goals include looking in to the possible creation of a new cultural centre, creating a stronger link to the Fife Coastal Path and investigating options to preserve Macduff’s Castle. The group also hope to assess the stability of the caves and conduct more research into the markings inside the caves.

Cllr Adams, however, criticised successive Scottish governments for not doing enough to help Fife Council save the caves.

“I think the Scottish Government need to step up to the mark,” he said. “This isn’t just aimed at one party. None of the parties have done anything. It’s a bigger issue than Fife Council and we need the support of the Scottish Government. We can’t do this ourselves.”

And Cllr David Alexander made it clear that something needed to be done.

He stated: “It would be criminal for our generation to lose the caves. I’ve seen plans through my lifetime – for the last 30 or 40 years.”

David Paterson, Levenmouth area service manager, was confident that the plan would be deliverable but confirmed that Fife Council would need the support of the Scottish Government in the long term.

“We aren’t in a position to fund coastal protection,” he said. “We are trying to make it into smaller bites. We have a coherent approach that we haven’t had before.”

The Wemyss Caves contain markings from the Bronze Age through to the 19th century, the most important of which are from the Pictish period.

The Pictish markings are considered to be rare because of them being in a domestic setting. Most other examples of similar markings are found on standing stones.

However coastal erosion has put the caves at high risk and over £250,000 has been spent in the last 20 years trying to conserve them.

Following the decision, the plans will now go in front of Fife Council’s Executive Committee, who will make a final decision.