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Sharing Heritage: SWACS receive £3000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant for the Wemyss Caves Community Festival

Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (SWACS) has received a £3000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant to fund an exciting new community festival.

The brand new Wemyss Caves Community Festival will take place on Saturday 21st July and aims to give families a fun day out while celebrating their local history and the ancient Wemyss Caves.

The Provost of Fife Jim Leishman will officially open the celebrations at noon.

A number of fun activities for all ages will spread along the site of the caves by the East Wemyss waterfront, including: Pictish face painting, children’s archery, stone carving, storytelling, a medieval craft village and scheduled visits to the ancient Wemyss Caves – including ghost tales! There will also be food and retail stalls on site, and toilets will be provided.

The East Wemyss Senior Citizens Hall will also be open and host part of the SWACS collection for a special one-day exhibition. This exhibition will include a demonstration of their interactive 4D website, allowing people with limited mobility to digitally explore the ancient caves using their home computers.

The event will be free of charge.

Commenting on the award, Mike Arrowsmith, chair of SWACS said: “The festival will be celebrating thousands of years of history at the site and will involve the local community in a range of fun activities. We are delighted that HLF have awarded us this grant to help make the festival possible as part of our ambitions to establish the caves as an important attraction and visitor destination in Fife.”

Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “The Wemyss Caves Community Festival promises to be a great event and it shows clearly how local heritage can be a catalyst for lots of different activities and bring people together behind a common purpose.

HLF is pleased to support Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society in its plans to celebrate the landscape, history and people living near to the Wemyss Caves and, thanks to National Lottery players, enable people to enjoy the history on their own doorstep.”

SWACS is a group of volunteers formed in 1986, with the purpose of preserving the Wemyss Caves in East Wemyss. The caves are historically precious due to the high number of ancient carvings which are inscribed on their walls. The earliest of these are thought to date to the Bronze Age, whilst the vast majority are connected with the Pictish period. SWACS works to protect the caves from disruption caused by vandalism and coastal erosion.

In 2017, SWACS relaunched its 4D Wemyss Caves website which allows users to explore the caves from the comfort of their own home.

Along with the Wemyss Caves Community Festival, SWACS regularly holds weekend tours of the caves that have proved very popular during the Summer. The society also regularly supplies speakers to local organisations and national conferences to highlight the significance of the caves, and regularly produces books and other materials.

Anyone who is unable to attend the festival is encouraged to contact SWACS to take part in a cave tour.

The Wemyss Caves Community Festival will run on Saturday 21st July from 12.00 to 16.30.