Guidance on recording and conserving Scotland's underwater heritage
Our level of knowledge about the underwater heritage is low and many sites remain to be discovered. As we begin to learn more, it is becoming apparent that archaeological sites on the seabed are vulnerable to a complex interplay of manmade and environmental ‘drivers of change’.
What can I do to help?
Historic Scotland encourages public appreciation of, and involvement in the recording and conservation of the underwater heritage.
If you are visiting an underwater site, Historic Scotland asks that you take notice of established codes of conduct such as the Respect Our Wrecks
code of practice for wreck divers.
Should you wish to actively participate in recording projects, you can gain the necessary skills and participate in organised projects run by the Nautical Archaeology Society
What should I do if I find an object or wreck that I think may be of historic importance?
Historic Scotland suggests a three step approach in the first instance:
- Record the position of your site and as many details about it as you can.
- Respect what you find and do not disturb the site.
- Report your discovery to the Receiver of Wreck, and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, the national body of survey for the historic environment.
By following this suggestion, you will help to facilitate further investigation, to increase knowledge and understanding, and to allow Historic Scotland to assess the site for statutory protection, if necessary.
What obligations do I have?
If you do intend to recover any objects of historic interest from the seabed using a vessel, vehicle, structure or floating container (including lifting bags), you should enquire with Marine Scotland’s licensing operations team (MS-LOT
) as to whether a marine license is required. All wreck material recovered from the seabed, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, must also be reported to the Receiver of Wreck under the terms of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.
Within Historic MPAs and on scheduled monuments, as well as the wrecks of all aircraft crashed in military service and designated vessels afforded statutory protection by the Ministry of Defence under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, additional restrictions apply. You should seek advice from Historic Scotland (on Historic MPAs and scheduled monuments) and the Ministry of Defence (for war graves).