Wemyss Bay Caves Auralization Project
OTSF 3rd International Archaeoacoustics Conference Proposal
Nicholas Green MSc
Perth College, University of the Highlands and Islands
Wemyss caves found on the North shore of the Firth of the river Forth, Scotland represent the most Southerly boundary of ‘Pictland’ or ‘Pictavia’ and features the largest concentration of class 1, early Pictish/Bronze Age cave carvings known. The complex of caves, created by tidal action between 8,000 and 5,000 years ago has been a site in use for centuries and were probably inhabited by cave dwelling Bronze Age people of Scotland.
The University of St Andrews archaeology department commissioned a recent 3-D Laser mapping project of the site (http://www.4dwemysscaves.org/) and in early 2016 discussions around auralization and an archaeoacoutic study were suggested as a means of helping to complete a fuller story of this significant site. The project, although still in its editing and preparation stages was carried out in November of 2016.
The fieldwork proved challenging from an auditory analysis perspective due to some of the caves proximity to the shoreline and the tidal noise that accompanies and in many ways defines the auditory characteristic of the site. However using a complimentary series of field recording analysis techniques some very useful and representative recordings were made. All of the caves, four that are of use in this study were sampled from multiple source points using both full range sine sweep techniques and a more ‘guerrilla’ technique, that of bursting a balloon and recording the result on a mobile recording device. This later technique whilst being more limited in its frequency range does yield instant impressions of the acoustic signature of each cave.
It is proposed that an overview of the auralization project of this significant site be presented at the forthcoming Archaeoacoutics III conference. Drawing conclusions of how our earlier ancestors learned about acoustics in their environment and this might have been applied to later Medieval architecture.