Sculptor’s Cave

Covesea Caves

Useful Information

Location: North of Elgin, on the south shore of the Moray Firth.
Rd 89040 between Stotfield and Hopeman.
(57.718694, -3.386472)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Speleologysea cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Sylvia Benton (1931): The excavations of the Sculptor's Cave, Covesea, Morayshire Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 65, 1930-1. Page(s): 177-216 illust
Lindsey Büster, Ian Armit (2015): The Covesea Caves Project Moray Field Club Bulletin, 2015, pp 11-12.
Lindsey Büster, Ian Armit (2020): Darkness visible: the Sculptor’s Cave, Covesea, from the Bronze Age to the Picts Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 22 Sep 2020, 320 pp., ISBN (Print) 9781908332172.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1928/29 cave excavated by Sylvia Benton.
1979 search for pictish symbols in the cave by Ian and Alexandra Shepherd.
2014 The Covesea Caves Project excavates this and other nearby caves.


Sculptor’s Cave is the biggest of several caves which are known as Covesea Caves. Covesea is located on the plateau above the caves, a small hamlet. The caves can only be reached by foot along the Moray Coastal Trail from the Hopeman Golf Club at Hopeman or from the Covesea Links Golf near Covesea. Alternatively it may be reached by boat.

Sculptor’s Cave was named after the Pictish sculptor who created several carvings at the entrance walls, roughly between 600 and 800. It was excavated twice, in 1928-30 by Sylvia Benton and again in 1979 by Ian and Alexandra Shepherd. The excavated material included Late Bronze Age metalwork, Roman artefacts and human bones. During the Bronze age it was used for burials, either for full bodies or for juvenile heads in the entrance passages. During the Iron Age individuals were decapitated inside the cave. But the remains of the 1928-30 excavations are unfortunately lost.

Human remains were discovered in several caves along this stretch of coast. The remains can be found in Elgin Museum and the National Museum of Scotland. In the Covesea Caves Project nearby Covesea Cave 2 was excavated.

Nearby is also Sir Robert Stables Cave, which is quite small, but interesting because of the numerous holes which were formed by weathering in the sandstone.