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Rock Hunting in Scotland: Where to go Rockhounding for Scottish Gems and Minerals

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

[Updated 4th June 2023]

Here at The Stone Circle, we spend much of our time in the great outdoors, exploring, adventuring, and generally trying to find the best crystal specimens. Most of what we sell has been dug out of the ground by Scottish rock hunters and collectors, polished on sandpaper, and ends up in our online crystal shop.

We keep our collecting to a minimum and spread throughout different locations. We also buy from other Scottish crystal collectors and mineral enthusiasts across the country. You will find limited, one time products on our pages, added as we clean them up.

What Types of Crystals can be Found in Scotland?

There are numerous crystals that can be found here and they can be found in every county of Scotland. Quartz is an abundant mineral and can be found in clear, smoky, and milky forms everywhere you look. There is quartzite too, which is similar but is formed a different way.

Second to the frequently found quartz of the rivers and burns, you can find smoky quartz and clear quartz in the high regions. There is amethyst in Scotland, sapphire in the islands, and chalcedony/agate from north to south.

The next most common mineral you will find rockhounding in Scotland is Jasper. We have so many impressive forms of jasper that the people of the fishing villages used to shape them into beads and sell them to make a living. There is jasper from Scotland in the crown jewels and was extensively harvested from the Campsies in Victorian times. During this era, Scottish Pebble Jewellery was a fashion trend.

Finding Diamonds in Scotland

The regions of Scotland hold so many gemstone and crystal types that the famous Matthew Forster Heddie recorded a diamond specimen found here. The specimen was recorded in his book in 1901 and was missing for over a hundred years. Upon rediscovery at the Glasgow Hunterian Museum, the diamond was re-examined and found to be colourless garnet… but the fact that we believed it to be diamond for more than a hundred years tells you everything you need to know.

They’re rare, and you have to be willing to get your hands dirty, but they’re out there.

Where to find Crystals in Scotland?

Here at TSC we have spent years on the hunt for these precious gemstones and minerals, which we bring back and pass on to their new homes. We are active on both Instagram and Tik Tok and are asked daily where we find our mineral specimens as a result.

Although we’re not willing to give away our hard earned secrets, we can give you some rough tips as to where to find crystals in Scotland.

Looking for Minerals in the Southeast of Scotland

The area surrounding the capital city is known for producing some fantastic fossils, dating back to when Scotland was tropical (circa 350 million years ago). We would suggest you read the fossil collectors field guide before you go out and start fossicking in Scotland, though.

Crystal Hunting in the Northeast

Everything north of Dundee is great agate hunting territory. You can find amazing colours and types of agate in the hills here, although the Cairngorms are better known for quartz than agate. You will find plenty of smoky quartz in the mountains if you enjoy a hike. Other minerals have been reported in the mountains in the northeast, such as fluorite, silver and gold.

Rockhounding the West of Scotland

The lowlands are known for Scottish Agate and gold. If you have read our other blogs, you know that there are a thousand, thousand different forms of agate in Scotland. It is one of the most treasured gemstones that collectors seek out. Generally, agate is either chalcedony, quartz pocket, or a mixture of both.

The Southwest of Scotland

The southwest is one of the lowest regions of Scotland, down where we share the border with England. As such, many crystal hunters pass it by. It has some lovely quartz, some wonderful mines with a plethora of crystal specimens, gold, and even has amethyst. Again, you will find agate here but it will be harder to hunt than in the north.

Finding Crystals in the Scottish Highlands

Anything north of Perth, the southern and the upper highland areas, are well known for two things: mica schist and garnets. You will find them in streams and rivers, although it is often soft and water worn. Everything in the Highlands is wet.

You may find Scottish Marble in the far north, too, as well as the usual suspects (quartz etc.) We have heard tell of beryl, tourmaline and other rare gemstones in the far north, too.

Rock Hunting in the Scottish Islands

While the highlands have all the really rare minerals on the mainland, the islands are a treasure in themselves. They sit on a huge mineralogical marvel known as the Dalradian Supergroup. If you can imagine a type of crystal, you are likely to be able to find it in here somewhere.

We know that Sapphire comes from Sky, that Prehnite comes from the lower islands, and that Arran has some fantastic Smoky Quartz. We don’t often get to hop over to the islands to look for them though, since ferry fares are expensive.

Rockhounding for Individual Crystal Types

If you live in Scotland and you fancy your hand at rockhounding, then we encourage you to get out into the burns and splash about a bit. Get wet, get sweaty, climb the hills and find the rocks. To help you along, here is a rough guide to some of the commoner crystals you might find in your local area, no matter where in Scotland you live.

Finding Jasper

Jasper is all over the country. You will find it in red, yellow, purple, green, blue, black and white, and possibly others we haven’t spotted yet. You get jasp-agate here, which is a semi-transparent jasper that has agatized over time, and you get multiple variations like picture jasper, ocean jasper, and even similar forms to mookaite.

Finding Quartz

Quartz is the easiest crystal to find because it is so abundant here. It is usually white and when we find it in other colours we give them their own names, such as rose quartz or amethyst. Typically, Scottish quartz is either white, clear, or dark and smoky coloured. Depending on the area, it may be rust coloured with iron staining, or a deep sumptuous red that almost looks like purple.

Finding Garnets

Garnets are usually found in the Highlands, although they can be found all over the north (by which we mean anywhere above Glasgow). Garnets are often in mica shist here, so look for little red dots in the mica.

Finding Agate

Finding Scottish agates is an artform. This takes practise. Agate (chalcedony) is almost like quartz but it takes on a variety of different colours. It is often banded, lined, or filled with geode like cavities. The skin is usually dimpled, although not always.

Finding Gold

Gold panning is becoming big news in Scotland. Most gold is found outside the village of Tyndrum (please do not pan inside the village, it’s considered rude) and in Leadhills, in Dumfries and Galloway, where you need a license.

Tips for finding gold in Scotland?

It is always deeper than you think it is. Don’t use motorised equipment or you may be arrested. Gold is a lot heavier than water, so if you can swirl it in your pan, then it’s probably mica. It’s also nothing like gold rush, if you rock up with a high banker and a dredge, the authorities, locals, and Gold Panning Association will hunt you out of the country. Not really… but they should.

Where to find Crystals in the UK?

In general, keep away from the coastlines as much of it is protected. Instead, go to the rivers, streams, and lochs for a look - and make sure to avoid SSSI. When you are driving past piles of rocks by the roadside, go and look at what they have dug up. If you see anything interesting, find out who owns the land and ask if you can look at their rocks. They might laugh at you. Be prepared.

Rockhounding is part mindfulness and part quiet sport. You can spend all day looking for something and turn up empty handed. However, you will have explored a wide area, got some exercise, and enjoyed the great outdoors in the process. So get out there and explore.

And if you don’t find anything? You can always buy Scottish crystals from us, instead.

Enjoy the article? You can follow us on Facebook for regular blog updates to learn more about hunting for Scottish rocks. You can also buy me a coffee to help fund these articles and keep me writing about rockhounding adventures.

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Zoe Aldea Maha
Zoe Aldea Maha
May 11, 2023

How do we clean crystals we find ?

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