About Us

15 December 2022

Appeal for information after suspected illegal metal detecting in Holyrood Park

After an upsurge in suspected heritage crimes, Historic Environment Scotland appeals for information.

A general view of Salisbury Crag, looking out to Edinburgh’s Old Town, in Holyrood Park.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is investigating a number of recent incidents of damage and suspected illegal metal detecting within Holyrood Park, and appealing to the public for any information which may help with these enquiries.

The past few months have seen an upsurge in suspected incidents, including two cases where areas of turf have been stolen on Whinny Hill.

Artefacts previously discovered within Holyrood Park, which is a Property in Care of HES, reveal human activity on the site since at least 5000 BC. The site is also protected as a scheduled monument, meaning that metal detecting and the removal of items from the site is illegal without prior consent and is subject to prosecution. Metal detecting is only permitted at HES sites when part of an authorised archaeological research project under supervision of the organisation’s in-house archaeologists.

Signage has been put in place throughout the Park to help raise awareness of the site’s protected status and to deter metal detecting.

Stefan Sagrott, Senior Cultural Resources Advisor at HES, said:

Illegal metal detecting within our historic environment can cause irreparable damage to archaeological sites and impair investigation of them, potentially robbing us of our history.

"These incidents also divert resources away from vital conservation work to our sites and monuments.

“We work closely with Police Scotland and other partners to encourage responsible metal detecting, raise awareness of the impacts of illegal incidents and investigate cases thoroughly to ensure our historic environment is protected.

“We would urge any members of the public with any information regarding these incidents to get in touch with us at hmenquiries@hes.scot; contact Police Scotland on 101; or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.”

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
  • View our press pack and keep up to date by registering for media release email alerts. If you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us.

Follow Historic Environment Scotland

Twitter: @HistEnvScot | @welovehistory

Facebook: @HistoricEnvScotland | @VisitHistoricScotland

Instagram: @HistEnvScot | @historicscotland


For further information, please contact:

Claire Mullaney
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Mobile: 07221 959 962