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East Wemyss, Jonathan's Cave - Gasworks

Midden (Period Unassigned)

Site Name East Wemyss, Jonathan's Cave - Gasworks

Classification Midden (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Wemyss Caves

Canmore ID 72437

Site Number NT39NW 31.01

NGR NT 346 972

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/72437

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Wemyss
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District Kirkcaldy
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NT39NW 31 346 978.

The first of two excavations undertaken on the foreshore (see NT39NW 31.05 for second). The first, in February, was concerned with the investigation of the eroding foreshore deposits in front of Jonathan's Cave (NT39NW 9). A narrow strip along the exposed face was excavated revealing a series of midden deposits. These were rich in sea-shells, animal bone and stone and also produced small quantities of pottery, flint and worked stone. The section in front of the Sliding Cave revealed features including a ditch and bank and a series of metalled surfaces. Most of the layers were rich in midden material and the finds included a crucible fragment.

Sponsor: SDD HBM-AOC.

A Duffy 1989a.

In early March 1990 Archaeology Projects Glasgow undertook emergency recording of a 90m section of coastline near the Wemyss caves which had eroded substantially over the winter, east from Jonathan's Cave to the disused gas works.

One area had a particularly high archaeological potential, from the east of the Sliding Cave for a distance of 35m and consists of well stratified deposits containing obvious archaeological features. Three dry stone walls project from the section. The stone features were embedded in well stratified "midden" deposits, layers which contain shell and animal bone. The depth of the midden (up to 1.5m) attests to a long period of human activity. In close association with one wall was a hearth. The proximity of walls to the Sliding Cave suggest that the strata there may be contemporary with the use of the cave.

A second area of interest was at the extreme west end of the section, approximately 5m east of Jonathan's Cave. Here at the deepest point of the eroding section (some 5m deep), shell sand was observed. This is interpreted as the mid-Flandrian beach. Within the shell sand deposit a large piece of worked wood was exposed and sampled.

In addition to the archaeological recording, geomorphological descriptions were made of the deposits in the two areas described above. Sponsor: HBM.

S Driscoll 1990.

In October 1990 GUARD (then APG) undertook the excavation of archaeological deposits which were eroding onto the beach from a section running along the foot of red sandstone cliffs. The two areas excavated were located some 100m to the NW of Jonathan's Cave and lay in front of the face of a former quarry.

The excavated areas revealed drystone masonry structures with associated midden and dump deposits. The cut of a sealed pit was also revealed in section.

The structural elements, of which several phases were indentified, appeared to relate to a consolidation of the foreshore area at the quarry entrance as well as providing access to the quarry they may have served as quay related to the transport of stone.

The only small finds were 3 sherds of 14th/15th century East Coast Scottish White Gritty ware. Though it was not possible to date the structures more accurately this type of pottery can be seen as broadly contemporary with the various phases of construction at MacDuff's castle, between the 14th and 17th centuries. It is highly likely that the quarry was the main source of building material used in the construction of the castle which lies some 400m to the SW of the quarry.

Sponsors: Historic Scotland; Fife Regional Council.

A Pollard 1992.

Activities

Excavation (February 1989)

The first of two excavations undertaken on the foreshore (see NT39NW 31.05 for second). The first, in February, was concerned with the investigation of the eroding foreshore deposits in front of Jonathan's Cave (NT39NW 9). A narrow strip along the exposed face was excavated revealing a series of midden deposits. These were rich in sea-shells, animal bone and stone and also produced small quantities of pottery, flint and worked stone. The section in front of the Sliding Cave revealed features including a ditch and bank and a series of metalled surfaces. Most of the layers were rich in midden material and the finds included a crucible fragment.

Sponsor: SDD HBM-AOC.

A Duffy 1989a.

References

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