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About Marine Heritage

The importance of protecting Scotland's Marine Heritage

A compass on display at Trinity House, Edinburgh
Throughout history, Scotland’s coasts and seas have provided a source of food and energy, a means of defence from invasion, and a springboard for trade and communication between communities and across oceans. As a result, a wide range of heritage assets are found at the coast edge, on the foreshore and out to sea.  

Scotland’s marine historic environment comprises:

  • remains of ships and aircraft lost at sea
  • harbours, lighthouses and other structures relating to transport and trade by sea
  • remains of human settlement at the coastal fringe. In some cases, sites may now be underwater as a result of changes in sea level

Marine heritage helps to create a sense of place, wellbeing and identify, enhancing the distinctiveness of coastal areas and attracting visitors to Scotland.  

Historic Environment Scotland’s policy is that heritage that may be under water should be managed, protected and investigated as carefully and thoroughly as its terrestrial equivalent, so far as is possible. Historic Environment Scotland is therefore working with Marine Scotland and other partners on the Scottish Marine Protected Areas project to make recommendations to Scottish Ministers on the selection, designation and management of Marine Protected Areas in the seas around Scotland.  

By helping to protect our most important historic wrecks and other marine heritage sites in such a way that they can be valued and understood, Historic Environment Scotland is contributing to the Scottish Government’s vision for clean, healthy, safe, productive, biologically diverse coastal and marine environments, managed to meet the long-term needs of people and nature.  

You can find out more about our priorities under our Marine Heritage Strategy 2012-15.

Contact us

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