Advice and Support

Surveying scheduled monuments

Learn about the main survey techniques used to examine scheduled monuments and see what kind of consent is required for each.

We encourage the non-invasive survey of scheduled monuments, as it can help to improve our knowledge and understanding of a site without causing it any damage.

A number of survey techniques require the prior written consent of Historic Environment Scotland. It’s a criminal offence to use these techniques in a scheduled monument area without first obtaining the relevant consent.

You don’t need to tell us in advance if you plan to conduct a survey that doesn’t require consent. (You should, of course, inform the owner or occupier.) But it can be very useful for us to know that such work will be taking place. We’d also appreciate receiving a copy of your results.

The table below outlines what kind of consent, if any, is required for the main types of survey work. This is not an exhaustive list.

Survey method SMC MMDC None
Topographic x
Resistivity x
Magnetometry/gradiometry x
Magnetic susceptibility (field coil) x x
Magnetic susceptibility (sampling) x
Magnetic fishing
Metal detecting x
Ground penetrating radar x x
Seismic survey
LiDAR survey x x
Field walking (removal of artefacts) x
Insertion of permanent survey markers x
Insertion of survey markers or probes (temporary or permanent) below the depth of the current topsoil x
Excavation on any scale


SMC: Scheduled monument consent
MMDC: Metal and mineral detecting consent


For more information or if you have any questions, please contact us by telephone on 0131 668 8716 or email us at