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Scotland’s first Historic Marine Protected Areas announced

18 March 2013

Scotland’s first tranche of Historic Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) was announced today (18 March 2013).

The announcement by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, follows the urgent designation of the remains of an historic shipwreck which lies off the Sutherland coast. The well-preserved 17th- or early 18th-century merchant shipwreck was found close to the harbour of Drumbeg by a local scallop diver.

Historic Scotland’s marine archaeologists visited the site with the wreck’s finder during summer 2012 to assess his discovery and concluded that the wreck is an historic asset of national importance meriting statutory protection.

Fiona Hyslop has also outlined a further six proposals for Historic MPAs around Scotland’s coast. These sites (listed below) are currently safeguarded by the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 and will have their protection transferred to the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 – the first time the MPA powers of this Act have been used.

The 2010 Act allows for the conservation of Scotland's outstanding marine natural and cultural heritage through designation of a network of MPAs. The protection afforded by the Historic MPA designation can be used to safeguard individual wrecks of national importance, as at Drumbeg, or a group of sites such as an important fleet anchorage or a battle site.

Historic Scotland has been working closely with Marine Scotland and numerous stakeholders in drawing up this first list of designations. The agency will now launch a consultation on all seven proposed Historic MPAs to seek public opinion.

Fiona Hyslop said: “It is important to safeguard our most important underwater heritage sites in the seas around Scotland so that they can be valued and enjoyed and I am pleased to announce our first Historic MPAs as a first step to achieving that aim.   

“Historic MPAs provide protection based on the principle of sustainable use. We hope that visitors will have more opportunities to enjoy these sites on a ‘look but don’t touch’ basis, and will also gain a better understanding of the importance of our marine heritage.”

The consultation on the first tranche of Historic MPAs will invite views on:

The well-preserved remains of a vessel of 17th- or early 18th-century date discovered close to the harbour of Drumbeg, Sutherland. Urgent designation takes effect on 18 March 2013 and lasts for a period of two years. The consultation will invite views on proposals to make this designation permanent.

A Clyde-built, Blue-Riband winning Cunard liner, wrecked in the Firth of Forth just off Burntisland in 1918.  It was one of the first ships to be converted to an aircraft carrier during WW1.  

Duart Point, Isle of Mull
A 17th-century Scottish warship, possibly the Swan, that was part of a squadron sent by Oliver Cromwell to stamp out Royalist resistance to parliamentarian rule in the Western Isles during the Civil War.  She was lost near Duart Point on the Isle of Mull in 1653.

This is a fifth-rate naval frigate which was dispatched in 1690 to bring to heel recalcitrant Jacobite clans in the Western Isles and to secure the allegiance of William and Mary.  She sank on 9 October 1690 on the small island of Eilean Rubha an Ridire, close to the Morvern shore at the southern entrance to the Sound of Mull.     

The wreck of a vessel of probable Dutch origin, lost in an attack on Lochaber’s Mingary Castle in 1644. Important associations exist with the conflicts between the anti-Campbell Highland clans and the Covenanters during the 1640s.

These are the remains of a merchant vessel dating to the late 16th or early 17th century.  It was carrying a cargo of ornate ceramics from Portugal and Italy when it sank south of Kinlochbervie harbour, off the north-west Highlands.  

Out Skerries, Shetland Kennemerland
Two vessels were lost around the Shetland archipelago of Out Skerries during the 17th century: a) the Kennemerland, a wreck of the Dutch East India Company merchant ship that was outward bound from Holland to the East Indies. She was lost at the South Mouth entrance to the harbour of Shetland’s Out Skerries in 1664; and b) the Wrangels Palais, a wreck of a Danish warship reported as lost at Lamda Stack, close to the navigation hazard of Bound Skerry in July 1687.

It is proposed that two further tranches of Historic MPAs will be announced over the coming two years.

Notes for Editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, inspiring our people and our visitors to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity as Scotland prepares to welcome the world in 2014 and beyond. Find out more about Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty at

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For further information

John MacNeil
Media Relations Manager
Media Relations Manager
0131 668 8714 or 07854 366 827