Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society
In September 1986 a car was driven from the neighbouring town of Buckhaven, down Jonathan’s Brae and into Jonathan’s Cave, where it was deliberately set alight. This event tragically resulted in the irreversible destruction of a number of carvings in Jonathan’s Cave including some of Pictish beasts and one depicting a swan.
It was this destructive act of vandalism which served as a principal catalyst in the formation of the Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (SWACS) on October 8th, 1986. Since its inception members of SWACS have worked tirelessly and creatively in order to promote and protect the Wemyss Caves and their unique carvings.
The society has functioned through the passion and commitment of its local volunteers, who have sacrificed a great deal of time and expense to ensuring the preservation of this historically unique setting.
The work of SWACS is immensely varied and encompasses everything from book publications to hosting annual historical/archaeological lectures. Aside from a wide variation of promotional and educational work, SWACS also holds a series of Open Sundays which run annually from April to September. The Open Sundays are exceptionally popular and allow visitors, from near and far, the chance to explore the artefacts and information in SWACS’ museum - which is situated at East Wemyss Primary School in the Wemyss Environmental Education Centre – as well as the opportunity to explore the caves under the guidance of SWACS’ experienced guides.
In 2013 (April 16th) SWACS was unanimously congratulated in the Scottish Parliament during a debate instigated by local MSP, David Torrance. In 2014, SWACS, alongside York Archaeological Trust (YAT) and Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion (SCAPE) were awarded a certificate of excellence by the British Archaeological Awards for the visualisation of Jonathan's Cave and the creation of the Wemyss 4D website.
SWACS Committee Positions (2016/17):
Mike Arrowsmith (Chair)
Sue Hamstead (Vice-Chair / Education Officer)
Dave Anderson (Treasurer / Secretary)
Dave Reid (Membership Secretary)
Charles Pfeil (Minutes Secretary)
Pam Cranston (Archivist)
Nancy Carstairs (Catering Officer)
Jo Hambly (Committee Member)
David Torrance (Committee Member)
Ron Morris (Committee Member)
Visiting the Caves
It is inadvisable for anyone to go into the caves without an official SWACS guide.
SWACS provide guided tours of the Caves (free of charge).
Summer Saturdays: SWACS will be running tours of the Wemyss Caves every Saturday during July. Look out for our table near the information boards at the east end of East Wemyss along the seafront. Tours will depart there at 2pm.
Open Sundays: From April to September, on the second Sunday of the month, our Enviromental Centre in the basement of East Wemyss Primary School will be open to the public and tours of the caves will depart from there. The centre will be open 2pm - 4.30pm but please arrive before 3pm if you want to join a tour,
Tours of the Caves can also be sought on request.
Sue Hamstead (head guide)
SWACS in action: