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We have created a new public body, Historic Environment Scotland. While we work on shaping our future we can reassure you that all services and products will continue as normal. Please follow our progress and find out more about our new organisation.

what is a historic marine protected area?

Two anchors and a cannon at Kinlochbervie
Historic Marine Protected Areas are designated in Scottish territorial waters (0-12 miles) under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 for the purpose of preserving marine historic assets of national importance.

Historic MPAs are normally considered appropriate for protecting underwater heritage, for example a particularly significant historic shipwreck, remains relating to an important fleet anchorage, battle site or navigational hazard where multiple wrecks and other features exist. It would also be possible to designate a submerged prehistoric landscape if structural or artefact-based evidence is identified on the seabed.

Other forms of statutory designation also help to protect cultural heritage sites around the coast of Scotland.

Listed buildings and scheduled monuments around our coast

Archaeological sites on the foreshore, such as crannogs and fish-traps, or the coast edge remains of castles, industrial and religious sites, settlements, defence networks, and military defences are normally protected as scheduled monuments; buildings of special architectural or historic interest such as harbours, lighthouses and bridges with land-ward and marine components are normally protected as listed buildings.

War graves

All military aircraft are automatically designated as Protected Places under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. Vessels may be designated under this Act either as a Protected Place or as a Controlled Site. Divers may visit a Protected Place on a "look but don't touch" basis. Divers are prohibited from visiting Controlled Sites without a license. This Act is administered by the UK Ministry of Defence (RAF for aircraft, Navy for vessels). Find out about these sites here.

Protection of Wrecks Act 1973

Historic MPAs have replaced use of section 1 of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 for designation of historic shipwrecks in Scottish territorial waters. This legislation was repealed in Scotland on 1 November 2013.

Contact us

Designations Team
Historic Environment Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place
Edinburgh EH5 3EH
Tel: +44 (0) 131 668 8600