The History of Scottish Gold

The following is an extract from the book ‘Scottish Gold – Fruit of the Nation’ by Neil D.L. Clark published by Neil Wilson Publishing Ltd and available at

Book Cover - Scottish Gold Furit of the Nation‘Gold has been an important part of Scottish heritage for millennia and leisure panners can still be seen at the popular ‘gold resorts’ of Wanlockhead and Kildonan in Sutherland. Extensive mining took place during the reigns of James the IV and V in parts of the Leadhills, where nuggets weighing close to 1kg were said to have been found and converted into coinage or repairs to the royal regalia. Mining in the Leadhills for gold ceased during the reign of James VI, in the 1620s, and have only been worked on a small scale since then.

Gold fever was rife in Victorian Britain with stories glamourising the rags-to-riches stories of the Californian gold rush of the late 1840s and the Australian Ballarat discoveries of the early 1850s. Many thousands of Scots left home to find their fortune, some returning successful and others less so. Scotland was not a rich country in the 1850s; with the potato famine of the 1840s, cholera outbreaks and the Highland Clearances, it is not surprising that the first mention of gold being discovered in Scotland generated a rush to the hills in Fife (1852) and then in Sutherland (1869).’

In June 2015 someone learning to pan for Scottish gold found a nugget believed to be the most significant discovery in Scotland over the past 70 years. It has been reported by the BBC that this is a 20 carat gold nugget weighing around 18.1g (0.6oz). The nugget was found by a Canadian man attending a gold panning course near Wanlockhead in the Lowther Hills.