Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Fields of Blue

Sting sang about 'Fields of Gold' but it was the intense lavender blue colour in the field adjacent to the Serpentine Walk that caught my attention.

When I got closer I realised that it wasn't lavender but phacelia. It is a useful plant in agriculture because it is a green manure. Once the flowers and foliage die back they are ploughed into the soil and act as a fertiliser. Phacelia can also be planted in strips at the edge of a field as it attracts bees, hoverflies and other pollinators essential for a good crop.


Close up of the flower (Phacelia tanacetifolia)

At the edge of the field there were also other wild flowers, poppies, ox-eye daisies and shepherds purse to name but a few.
Looking down  from the road at Upper Largo across the fields to the coast of East Lothian on the opposite side of the Forth. Can just see North Berwick Law.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Hummingbird Hawk-moth

A hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) feeding on the valerian in my garden.

The first time I saw this moth, I could hardly believe my eyes. It was buzzing like a bee but looked like a tiny bird.
Hummingbird hawk-moths beat their wings at such speed they emit an audible hum. Their name is further derived from their similar feeding patterns to hummingbirds, collecting nectar with their long tongues. Active in both sunny and overcast conditions, hummingbird hawk-moths are strongly attracted to flowers with a plentiful supply of nectar such as honeysuckle, buddleia and as in these photos valerian. 
Difficult to get clear photos because their wings are just a blur.


There were also tortoiseshell butterflies feeding on the valerian, so although somewhat unruly and invasive, it seems a great plant for attracting moths butterflies and other insects such as hoverflies.


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Jonathan's Cave - The Boat

All the markings in Jonathan's Cave are on the west wall with the exception of the boat in the above photo which is on the east wall. It is probably the most iconic of all the images in the caves. It is said to be the oldest known drawing of a ship in Scotland.
There is a lot of salt deposit on the wall of the cave and I found it difficult to pick out the outline of the boat in the photo I'd taken. After a bit of manipulation of the photo using Picasa it was a little bit clearer and I was able to trace the outline, although the exact position and length of the oars was still difficult to make out.

Jonathan's Cave interpretation board in East Wemyss.
There is a wealth of information about the carvings and the history of all the caves available, particularly on the Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society website and facebook page.

Recently up-to-date digital recording techniques have been used to create a comprehensive  record of Jonathan's Cave ( Weymss Caves 4D) and hopefully in the future this work will be extended to include the other caves.

References 
Guide to the Wemyss Caves by Frank Rankin and published by Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society.
www. wemysscaves.co.uk - the website of Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (S.W.A.C.S.)
www.4dwemysscaves.org - digital record of Jonathan's Cave

Friday, 18 July 2014

Jonathan's Cave

Walking east along the foreshore from the Doo Cave one comes to several caves that are known as the Well Caves just beneath McDuff Castle. These are all difficult to access, but further on lies Jonathan's Cave. This cave has two entrances on of which is gated and it contains more markings than all the other existing caves.
It gets its name from Jonathan who was a nailmaker and who lived in the cave with his family.
 A double disc with possibly a bird to the left.
 Another double disc with a square above and possibly a long-necked bird to the left.
 Quite a feint marking possibly a goose or a duck.
 A fish with two cup marks either side of its head.
 A horse with its tail flicked over its back.
Upper and lower photos two tridents.
 Possibly carving of a deer bending to graze.
Towards the back of the cave on a high ledge there are lines which are thought to represent Pictish Ogham Script. Unfortunately, no-one has been able to translate it.
 Looking out of the cave, can see that the floor of the cave is considerably lower than the foreshore.
From ancient to modern. Coming out of Jonathan's cave with its ancient carvings and looking towards Buckhaven with a view of the largest wind turbine in Europe - a new edition to the skyline.


References 
Guide to the Wemyss Caves by Frank Rankin and published by Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society.
www. wemysscaves.co.uk - the website of Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (S.W.A.C.S.)

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Doo Cave

Continuing to walk towards Buckhaven from East Wemyss, the second cave one comes across is the Doo Cave. 
 The entrance to the Doo Cave.
In past times the cave was used as a doocote and there are many pigeon boxes that have been carved out of the wall of the cave.

There are no markings in this cave but there are amazing shades of green on the walls. At one time there were two caves here but unfortunately the west cave which contained a great number of markings collapsed.  

Looking out to sea from the Doo Cave.


References 
Guide to the Wemyss Caves by Frank Rankin and published by Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society.
www. wemysscaves.co.uk - the website of Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (S.W.A.C.S.)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Wemyss Caves

The Wemyss Caves lie along this stretch of shoreline to the east of the village of East Wemyss. There are interpretation boards close to this point.


Although I'd been to the Wemyss Caves several times, the last visit was some years ago, so when I read that the 'Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society' (SWACS) was offering guided tours of the caves on Saturdays in July, I thought it was time for a return visit and it was very well worth while. I learned a lot. The caves contain more Pictish carvings than anywhere else in Britain.
Walking towards Buckhaven from East Wemyss the first cave one comes to is known as the Court Cave.  It is said to have got its name because in the middle ages the landowner was responsible for the upkeep of law and order and he presided over the ‘Baron’s Court’ which was held in this cave. The court was summoned by ringing a bell, which hung from the mouth of the Cave.


Inside the Court Cave.


Cup marks in the Court Cave. They are an early form of rock art but the purpose of these marks is debatable.

This marking possibly represents the Viking god Thor with his hammer and  his sacred goat.

There are several symbols in this portion of the cave wall. At the top a long-necked bird and next to it a double disc and rod. Lower down other symbols including another double disc and a decorated rod.


References 
Guide to the Wemyss Caves by Frank Rankin and published by Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society.
www. wemysscaves.co.uk - the website of Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (S.W.A.C.S.)

Friday, 11 July 2014

Musk Mallow and Tree Mallow

A very pretty patch of musk mallow (Malva moschata) just by the ruined salt pan houses about half a mile East of Lower Largo village.


Tree mallow (Malva arborea or Lavatera arborea) at the back of the Temple Car Park in Lower Largo. The flowers are similar to but less showy than those of the garden hollyhock, which is also a member of the mallow family of plants (malvaceae).