Scottish Placer Gold (Part 1)

 (A 6.5 gram beauty from Scotland.)

Unless I miss my bet here, this post constitutes my first attempt to address placer gold in Europe, specifically Scotland, United Kingdom. So if you you're a Scottish gold prospector or miner, or simply considering a gold panning excursion to what the ancient Romans called "Caledonia," here's some salient info for you.

Volcanic in Origin

According to the good people at the University of Leeds, most (if not) all Scottish placer gold has its origins in hydrothermal deposits that were formed in a number of gold mineralization contexts. These include:
  • Low-sulfidation epithermal (vein gold formations)
  • High-sulfidation epithermal (vein gold formations)
  • Porphyry (gold widely diffused throughout host rocks)
All three types of mineralization are volcanic in origin where the gold was originally in liquid solution before significant changes (metamorphism) altered the Au's chemical state and caused it to precipitate.

Show of Color

That said, I'm about to throw you a real curve ball when it comes to Scottish placer gold. In rare but documented instances, it's associated in areas where a type of red sandstone comes into contact with (i.e., forms a "contact zone") with underlying rocks of a non-sandstone nature. These sedimentary placers are associated with the Permian epoch.

(Scottish placer gold from a variety of locations.)

OK, a word to the wise here. Lest you decide to throw caution to the winds and use your life savings to fund a gold mining venture for developing Scotland's sedimentary placers, the gold contained within them is widely diffused and extremely fine grained. However, for small-scale miners or hobbyists, these red sedimentary type placers may bring a show of color to your gold pan and I think that's what you're interested in, isn't it?

Main Placer Locations

Let's get down to the nitty gritty now. I know some of you are champing at the bit to know where the main Scottish placer gold locations are. So here you go:

Glengaber Burn: Historically speaking, this was one of the largest and "richest" gold placers in Scotland as a whole. To this day, most of the drainages in and around Glengaber Burn contain placer gold of varying size.

Moness River: Any Scottish miner or gold panner worth his or her own salt is familiar with the Moness River gold placers. Some believe the placers were derived from high-grade vein material at Calliacher Burn. Either way, it was the gold here that put Aberfeldy on the map.

(The Moness River near Aberfeldy.)

Sutherland Goldfield: Arguably the most famous gold area in all of Scotland. The geologists are still pulling their hair out trying to determine where all the gold at Sutherland came from and the debate still rages on. More than likely, the Sutherland Goldfield was formed from in a low-sulfidation epithermal context.

One thing to bear in mind when it comes to Scottish placer gold is its high silver content. Sure, "contaminants" such as copper, bismuth, silver, and others are found in placer gold to varying degrees throughout the world, but Scotland's placers are a bit above the norm in that regard...especially when it comes to Ag.

I'll have more Scottish panning areas for you next go round. Until then, take the high road and keep smiling!

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2014

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Scotland and Ireland, are two places I would love to go there is one more reason!

  2. I'll second that motion Gary!


Post a Comment