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Metal detecting

Metal detecting

Metal detecting is a popular leisure activity - and Scotland’s beaches are a favourite spot for detectorists. 

Where you can detect

In Scotland (in contrast to England, Wales and Northern Ireland), there is a general right of access for the public to all beaches and foreshore, so we don’t require people to obtain a permit for access to Crown foreshore. 

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code was produced to help people enjoy the outdoors responsibly and it has a very good section on access rights. 

What you should know before detecting 

Detectorists should abide by the statutory treasure trove procedures - and we also recommend abiding by best practice as suggested by the National Council for Metal Detecting. 

It is a criminal offence to use a metal detector on a scheduled monument without written permission from Scottish Ministers beforehand. You can get advice from Historic Environment Scotland about this. 

Taking care around Cables 

There are many locations around the UK where subsea cables come on to the mainland and either transfer onto an overhead line or continue underground to their final connection points. 

If you plan to use your metal detector around beaches or shorelines:

  • look for signs of buried power cables before you begin
  • keep a watchful eye for locations where an overhead line terminates near the sea or where cable marker posts are visible
  • avoid digging in an area if a detector identifies a reading across a large length, as this may indicate the presence of a power cable 

Occasionally, storms and fierce currents wash away sand or other protective materials leaving the cable exposed.

If you find an exposed cable on the beach:

  • please don’t go near it
  • let the local electricity company know immediately by using the 105 Emergency Reporting Number 

Both the Energy Networks Association and Health and Safety Executive provide guidance on avoiding underground power cables and underground services, and information can be found at and