Scots caves re­vealed as home to old­est Pic­tish art

The Herald - - NEWS - MARTHA VAUGHAN

CAVES on the Fife coast have been hailed as the birth­place of Pic­tish art.

The We­myss Caves, near East We­myss, fea­ture the largest col­lec­tion of in situ Pic­tish carv­ings in the world. They in­clude hu­man fig­ures, an­i­mals, sym­bols and a carv­ing of a ship. Now, re­search sug­gests they could be the world’s old­est Pic­tish art.

The five caves were first doc­u­mented in the 19th cen­tury. How­ever, a new in­ter­ac­tive model, us­ing laser scans, has en­abled re­searchers to ex­am­ine the carv­ings in greater de­tail and a ra­dio­car­bon date has shown the carv­ings may have ap­peared be­tween 240-400AD.

The carv­ings were first iden­ti­fied as Pic­tish in 1865 by the doc­tor and an­ti­quar­ian James Young Simp­son – best known for the first use of chlo­ro­form as an anaes­thetic. They in­clude 49 of only 60 ex­am­ples of Pic­tish sym­bols doc­u­mented in caves.

Among the most im­por­tant is that of a boat, thought to be the ear­li­est de­pic­tion of a boat in Scot­land.

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