Highlands & Islands

New protection planned for historic Scottish shipwrecks

Drumbeg
The wrecks include one found by a scallop diver off Drumbeg in Sutherland

Seven sites of historic shipwrecks off Scotland could be given new protected status.

The vessels involved include Dutch and Danish ships lost in Shetland's Out Skerries in the 1600s.

Also listed are what may be the 17th Century Scottish warship the Swan, off Mull, and a boat used to attack Lochaber's Mingary Castle in 1644.

The Scottish government has proposed making the sites Historic Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

The sites are currently safeguarded by the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.

Under the government's plans the wrecks' protection would transfer to the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010. It would be the first time the MPA powers of this Act have been used.

The protection afforded by the Historic MPA designation can be used to safeguard individual wrecks of national importance, or a group of sites such as an important fleet anchorage or a battle site.

Oliver Cromwell
The crew of one of the vessels involved was following Oliver Cromwell's orders

Historic Scotland and Marine Scotland worked with other organisations to draw up the list of seven sites.

Public views have now been sought on the proposals which involve the following wrecks:

  • A well-preserved 17th or early 18th Century merchant ship found close to the harbour of Drumbeg by a local scallop diver. Historic Scotland marine archaeologists visited the site last year and confirmed it was of national importance.
  • Campania, 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 World War I.
  • A 17th Century Scottish warship, possibly the Swan, that was part of a squadron sent by Oliver Cromwell to combat Royalist resistance to parliamentarian rule in the Western Isles during the Civil War. The vessel was lost near Duart Point on Mull in 1653.
  • Naval frigate Dartmouth which was deployed against Jacobites in 1690 and sank on 9 October 1690 off the small island of Eilean Rubha an Ridire at the southern entrance to the Sound of Mull.
  • A vessel thought to be of Dutch origin lost in an attack on Lochaber's Mingary Castle during tensions between clans and Covenanters in 1644.
  • 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 in the north west Highlands.
  • The Kennemerland, a 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. Also the Wrangels Palais, a Danish warship reported as lost at Lamda Stack in July 1687.

Culture and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the new protection could help people learn more about the wrecks.

She 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."

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