UK Fossils – Fossil collecting guides, advice, fossil hunting locations and events.
Where to find fossils? What is a fossil? and What to find? It doesn’t matter if your an experienced collector, or just starting out, our guides feature hundreds of fossil collecting locations in the UK, with geological guides, and advice. Fossils, rocks and minerals can easily be found with a little patience, we will show you how.
Featuring 395 locations
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Beginners guides to fossil hunting
How Fossils Formed (TAPHONOMY)- The most common method of how fossils formed is once an animal or plant dies, it falls to the ground, and is covered by sediment. This is often sediments brought from water. Of the vast amount of prehistoric life that died, it is only a tiny amount that has survived the fossilisation process. The conditions when the majority of life died were just not right at that time, to preserve them.
Where to find fossils- Fossils can be found in many places, most fossils are found on the beach or in quarries but many have been found in some very unusual places. Below is a list of places that you could find fossils. Please note some places such as quarries and farm fields need permission before you can enter, other places where fossils form part of the construction such as sea defences and walls, should not even be attempted. Damaging other peoples property is not only illegal, but morally wrong.
What is a fossil?- The word Fossil used to be defined as ‘something dug up’. Now-a-days it generally means ‘The remains or trace evidence of prehistoric life’. The study of fossils is called palaeontology; someone who collects and studies them is called a palaeontologists. Fossils can be as tiny as a grain of pollen or a seed for e.g. or as huge as a limb bone from a giant dinosaur. For animal or plant remains to have become ‘fossilised ‘, they must go through a certain process that preserves them for up to millions of years after they have died. Usually it is only the hard parts of plants and animals that survive this long process.
Equipment Guide- When fossil collecting, you will need the correct equipment. Often, each location will differ and of course depending on the weather and time of the year, you will also need to consider the correct clothing.If you are collecting in a quarry, there are important health and safety requirements by law. These are that you must wear a hard-hat, high visibility jacket and steel-toe-cap boots. This guide explains the recommended equipment you should take, both for your own safety and also the tools you might need.
Top fossil collecting locations
Warden Point (Isle of Sheppey)- Warden Point on the Isle of Sheppey is the most popular site for collecting London Clay fossils. Easily accessed, with lots of fresh fossils constantly being washed out. A wide variety of fossils, can be found including everything from turtles, lobsters and crabs to sharks’ teeth, snakes, crocodiles, molluscs and plant remains. Eocene, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Bracklesham Bay- There are nearly always people collecting at Bracklesham Bay. Fossils can simply be found washed up on the sand, and you can normally come back with bags full of decent finds, especially sharks’ teeth. During scouring tides, the fossiliferous Bracklesham Formation form the Eocene is exposed and the beach can be covered with ray and sharks’ teeth, and also bivalve shells. Occasionally, you can find corals, but you will definitely find lots of the often overlooked, large, single-celled foraminifera (Nummulites laevigatus). Eocene, Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Beachy Head- This is a classic British chalk location and a must for experienced fossil hunters. This guide concentrates on access from Cow Gap to Beachy Head. Over just a relatively short distance, fossils can be collected from the White Chalk Subgroup and Grey Chalk Subgroup. Please refer to the Eastbourne guide for the Eastbourne to Cow Gap section. Cretaceous, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦
Bearreraig Bay- Skye features a complete sequence of 400m of the Jurassic history. The entire coast from Portree to Staffin consists of fossiliferous Jurassic rocks. This guide features Bearreraig Bay fossils and some local information. Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Barton on Sea- The Barton Clay at Barton on Sea is famous for its hundreds of different species of shells, in particular, its gastropods. The beds are also rich in sharks’ teeth, fish and mammal remains. Sharks’ teeth at Barton can be picked up from the foreshore making this location ideal for all the family. Eocene, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Aust cliff- The famous red and white cliffs that can be seen when crossing the River Severn contain a highly productive bone bed at the top from the Rhaetian Penarth series. This bed is full of teeth, and reptile and fish remains, and is the most productive Triassic site in the UK. Triassic, Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Trearne Quarry- This working quarry is highly productive, especially for bivalves and brachiopods from Carboniferous marine shale deposits. Corals are also very common here. Carboniferous, Disused Quarry, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Pentland Hills- This is an area extremely rich in Silurian fossils, but which is also a challenging place to collect fossils from. The locations discussed in the guide are suitable for those who are used to exploring and walking. However, it is a beautiful landscape, with many different types of fossils to be collected. In fact, the area is famous for its rich diversity of fossil species, some of which are unique. Silurian, Cuttings, Outcrops, Disused Quarries, Streams, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Charmouth- The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site is one of the most famous and most popular Jurassic locations in the world, yielding plenty of fossils for the thousands that come collecting every year. And Charmouth is at the heart of it all. This geological guide features both the cliffs of Black Ven and Stonebarrow, and information on the local area of Charmouth. Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Caim- The scenery of the coast north of Caim is beautiful. Moreover, excellent fossil corals can be observed in situ and found as wave-rounded pebbles here. Brachiopods are especially abundant. Carboniferous, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦
Yaverland- This famous location is well known for dinosaur bones, reptile and fish remains, but you need the right conditions to have any luck, with the best collecting after winter and spring high tides. Yaverland is often sadly over collected. Cretaceous, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦
Whitby- This is a very popular location, but is sometimes difficult to access due to tide conditions. Whitby yields many ammonites, reptiles and shells, and is also famous for jet, which is the fossilised wood of monkey trees and used in jewellery. However, you can encounter a lot of competition at Whitby in your search for fossils. Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Achanarras Quarry- Achanarras Quarry once constantly yielded complete Middle Devonian fish from the Old Red Sandstone. However, it has been disused for many years and is now over-collected, but still very rich in remains. Complete fish can still be found, but are now rare. Devonian, Disused Quarry, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
West Runton- This is the location of the famous ‘West Runton Elephant’ find. From the West Runton Fresh Water Bed, mammal and fish remains are common, along with freshwater shells. On the foreshore, during scouring tides, the chalk yields echinoids and sponges. Pleistocene, Cretaceous, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Watchet- Watchet is rich in reptile remains and ammonites are also common. There are also some spectacular faults, which can be seen along with fossil casts of giant ammonites on the foreshore. This is a must-visit location for anyone in the area who is into fossils. Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦