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Sea/Beach Glass in Scotland

My wife and I are planning a 3 week trip to Scotland in the spring of 2020. We are also sea glass enthusiasts and wonder if there are any beaches that we could explore and find sea glass. We hope to be in Edinburgh, Aberdeenshire, Isle of Skye, John O' Groats as well as Ft William, Oban and Loch Lomond area. As we are in the early planning stages we could still look at expanding our tentative destinations. We truly appreciate any guidance that can be provided.

Thank you

Bill & Karen

Posted by
3789 posts

I wonder where beach glass falls in the 'removal of natural objects'. So many countries have laws and prohibitions of removal of natural resources, or entry into country with items, but this may be exempt, but could still harbour microbes or items unwanted by your home country. I realize it was originally trash, and isn't a natural resource, but I wonder if could still be a pest conduit? I am sure it can be boiled to sterile the glass, but I'd be curious whether you have ever run into issues bringing this back into country?

Posted by
3861 posts

I brought a handfull of sea glass home from Barcelona. I've mentioned it a few times on the forum and none of the Spanish people on the forum mentioned anything about it being illegal. It is trash, though governments could certainly enact rules to ban the collection. I would think they would post a sign. Sea glass is essentially rocks and there are places where they do ban the taking of rocks. It would be pretty unusual for anything to be living on a small rock/sea glass. I just would make sure its dry before packing. I sure wouldn't boil it.

Bill & Karen, if you go somewhere well known for sea glass, I think I would try to contact the municipality and make sure its legal.

Posted by
3789 posts

Jules M, thanks for your experience. I appreciate there is less and less marine 'pests' to consider but thought I would ask. You should be able to safely boil it, however.
Sea glass is lovely and I see a lot less of it than when I was a kid growing up on the coast....which is most likely a good thing....but still something missed.
Good luck on the 'gem' search.

Posted by
1177 posts

You may be more likely to find pottery fragments: white with blue is one the jewelers collect. I did see a TV show that featured jewelers who collected glass and pottery shards on south west beaches in England. Look on Google Earth to see if you can find likely built up beaches that are accessible. Good Luck!

Posted by
18720 posts

Glad you asked this, because I was thinking about posting a similar question myself concerning England.

This summer I went to the National Glass Center in Sunderland, England, right outside Newcastle. I chatted briefly with the ticket seller, who mentioned a beach where sea glass could be collected not too long a walk away. I hotfooted it over there and picked up some pieces; it wasn't very prolific on the part of the beach I walked. I later spent some time looking for sea glass at Whitby and had more luck there.

Another visitor to the Glass Center highly recommended searching at Seaham (I may not have that name quite right). What the two places have in common is a history of glass production in the area, which (the locals said) tends to mean more glass on the beach. Logical.

No one said anything about regulations prohibiting removal of sea glass, nor were there signs. I would expect prominent signage at any beach with such a prohibition.

In some long-forgotten source, I read about agates being found in western Scotland. I think it was along the firth near Inverary. Without a car, I made no effort to check that out. For me, agates would trump seaglass.

Somewhere up there--probably in northeast England rather than Scotland) is a beach where fossils can be found. I'm not a fossil person myself, but I think you'd be more likely to run into prohibitions there. The main thing, though, is that it can be very dangerous to chisel fossils out of cliffs.

Posted by
5544 posts

On the fossil front, there is a great walk on the Black Isle where you can usually find fossils. It's near Rosemarkie.

This post reminded me of how we would collect sea glass on Cape Cod. Basically, you are more apt to find sea glass where there are more people and people's trash. This interesting article points out that it takes about 30 years to convert trashy broken glass into beautiful sea glass. Note that the article lists the Abaco Islands as a wonderful place to find sea glass. They were so devasted by Dorian.

Posted by
90 posts

I found lots of sea glass at low tide just walking along the harbor wall in Oban.