An Excellent location, you can find almost anything, Ammonites, Shells, Belemnites, Reptiles (such as Ichthyosaurs), Echinoid’s and more from the Boulder Clay and Mammalian and Bird Remains from the Forest Bed during scouring conditions.
♦ The most direct way to access Pakefield is from Kessingland, park in the lay by near some houses on the right coming from Lowestoft. It is not far from the roundabout. There is a footpath on the opposite side of the road down a Campsite South of the lay by. This will take you directly onto the beach via steps. HOWEVER: The steps are not always accessible due to rapid erosion, it is possible to access the beach down the landslips however during the winter this can be very dangerous. It is also possible to cut across the fields at the Kessingland Roundabout before the Duel Carriageway (From Lowestoft) and by walking from Kessingland beach where there is a large car park.
♦ Should access be difficult at the above locations or for a more easier access to the beach (but a much longer walk), follow A12 heading from South and just after the 30mph sign off the last roundabout, turn off to Arbor lane, then follow down to the beach. Walk South once on the beach, (It is a long walk). Access can be made through the holiday park for the most direct route, however we do not recommend this as they often clamp cars and hand out big fines.
♦ Ref: 52.42971°N, 1.72915°E
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – Pakefield, fast becoming East Anglia’s’ premier fossiling location. There is so much to find here, although don’t expect to find much when the sea’s are calm and the sun is shinning !….this location rely’s on storms, heavy rain and beach scours, with the right condition this location is highly productive in mammalian remains from the forest bed and ammonites, reptile remains, shells, echinoid’s and much from the boulder clay.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦♦ – This location is ideal for children, fossils can be also found on the foreshore. Although children should stay away during the winter high tides.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – There are several ways to access Pakefield. The quickest and most direct route depends upon if the steps are present, often during the winter the sea and rain sweeps them away and they have to be re-built in the spring. The second point of access is quite a fair walk.
TYPE: – Fossils are mostly found on the foreshore but can also be found in the cliff face, or at the base of the cliff. Fossils from the forest bed are mostly below standard beach level, so these will be on the foreshore. Ammonites and other jurassic fossils from the boulder clay come from the top beds which fall during heavy rain and high tides.
Blue silty beds of the forest bed occasionally yield bones of mammals. The bones of this layer are more fragile and smaller than those from the gravel bed discussed later on this page. Smaller bones can also be found. The bed often only yields fragments. Between the blue greyish silt from the forest bed and the reddish orange silt, there is a very thin layer packed with stones and gravel. Within this layer, many small mammal remains can be found including in particular vole. It is best to wet sieve this layer.
A similar gravel layer can be found to the South of the above where over 1.5m of blue clay is well exposed. This layer is below beach level and requires beach scouring. This layer is highly fossiliferious and contains a wide range of large mammal bones including Rhino, Deer, Boar, Horse, Whale and others. The bones in this layer can be very large and well preserved. This layer is very rarely seen. During intense rainfall or high tides, boulder clay falls from the top of the cliff, usually this also gets washed out on the foreshore especially during scouring tides. Within this clay many Ichthyosaurus bones have been found mostly being vertebrae and paddle bones. Many other reptile bones can be found and crocodile. Ammonites can be collected from the foreshore. It is best to collect from the foreshore when the clay is being washed out, you have more chance of finding fossils.
The clay contains many erratic’s including lower, middle, upper chalk, Kimmerage formations and occasionally highly fossilferious Oolite similar to that of Yorkshire, the list goes on. In the chalk sometimes Echinoid’s and brachiopods can also be found. Within the clay, occasional blue gray nodules or pale yellow nodules can be found, these can contain Ammonites , shells and bones. You will need a heavy hammer to split these. There are also some dark red rocks which Ammonites can also be found in, but these are quite poorly preserved.
Starting at the top of the cliff, a layer of boulder clay thickens southwards. This layer tends to contain more chalk erratic’s to the North and more Jurassic erratic’s to the South. The boulder clay was formed during glaciating, in which the glacial’s scrapped the land and brought many rocks from the north. The boulder clay at Pakefield contains many Kimmeridge Clay rocks, some Oolite rocks and chalk. Below this, glacial sands and till make up roughly half of the formations at Pakefield. These beds are unfossilferious, and made up of very fine sands. These beds are very cold and from the ice age.
Directly below the sands, Lowestoft till is present and is also unfossilerferous. Under the glacial sands and till, the forest bed begins similar from that of Cromer. Glaciation has cut through this bed, at the Middle-North end of Pakefield, the Laminated silty organic muds lays directly under the sands and till. However at the Middle-South end, this bed is missing and instead, the Rootlet Bed is directly below. The Laminated Silty Clays make up roughly 0.8m of the forest bed. The thin Unio bed contains small vertebrates. Below the Rootlet Bed the Ferruginous Bed is a red-brown sand and gravel bed and has been measured to 2m but could is much thicker. Previously this has been the last bed documented.
The South end of Pakefield has never been washed out before or scoured, until recently in 2002. For this reason the remainder of the forest bed is not known nor the research carried out. This bed is packed with large mammals and is highly fossilferious. The bones are very well preserved and are a reddish colour. Bones have been recorded from the top of this bed and recently (2002) from the lower part. The Red-Brown sand and gravel, ferruginous bed continues to the South end of Pakefield. Below this is a series of layers alternating blue and red similar to the Rootlet Bed followed by a gray layer full of fossil wood. This layer is by far more compacted with wood compared to that of the Laminated silty organic muds layer. This bed so far has been recorded to be approximately half a metre thick, and at darkens with depth. The lowest part of this bed is a very dark gray.
Below this layer is yet another area which has not been identified, a second bed similar to the Red-Brown sand and Gravel had yielded two mammal bones, recently an antler and deer jaw. The Kessingland end used to be washed out years ago, but recently the beach has been moving Southwards allowing more of the Kessingland stretch to be washed out.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should be taken and knowledge of tide times should always be noted. The main issue one should be aware of is during scouring and exceptional high tides, you can easily get cut off. Be careful of cliff falls and do not climb the cliffs after a persistent or heavy rain fall, you may get stuck in the wet clay.
Apart from good eyes and a high tide or scour, a pick is the best tool to take along with a knife and spade to dig any bones out of the cliff or foreshore. Bones are fragile and should be cleaned and treated as soon as possible.
This site is an SSSI. This means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted. For full information about the reasons for the status of the site and restrictions please download the PDF from Natural England – SSSI Information – Pakefield to Easton Bavents