From the earliest times, men and women have searched for gold. Today, gold maintains high interest because of its scarcity and value.
Gold can be found in many areas of Scotland and particularly in the Lowther Hills around Wanlockhead and Leadhills where gold panning has been popular for centuries.
Gold is found in the sands and gravels in the burns which act as a natural means of concentrating the gold. Prospectors have been drawn to the Wanlockhead locality in search of gold for many centuries. The first documented evidence of the recovery of gold in the area was during the reign of King James IV of Scotland, in the early 16th century.
During the reign of King James V, gold from the Crawford Muir was incorporated in the new crowns for the King and Queen. Much of the gold coinage of King James V (1513 – 1542) and Mary Queen of Scots (1542 – 1567) was minted in Edinburgh using gold from this area.
More recently, local gold was used to form the ring around the shaft of the Scottish parliamentary mace. The ring signifies the marriage of the land, parliament and the people of Scotland. Many of the burns in the area contain abundant amounts of small flakes of gold and even the odd nugget.
A licence must be obtained before you start gold panning in the burns, these can be purchased from the museum shop.
Interested in having a go at gold panning?
Try our 30 minute taster course, or arrange a 5 hour course with local instructor, Leon Kirk. Courses with Leon can be booked through the museum.
More information from the British Gold Panning Association