Ramsholt is one of the best locations for fossils in Suffolk, yielding sharks’ teeth, lobsters, fruit and shells from the London Clay, shells, sharks’ teeth from the Red Crag, corals, echinoids from the Coralline, and complete crabs, fish remains and sharks’ teeth from the basement bed.
♦ To get to Ramsholt, head for the Ramsholt Arms, where there is a large car park just before the pub on the left. From here, there is a long walk to the cliff at Ramsholt. Walk west towards the Pub end and then follow the footpath round the banks of the river. This will eventually lead onto a path through a wooded area.
♦ Continue west and you will walk around the banks of the marshland, which is popular with many rare birds. Continue on and you will eventually arrive at a small beach with trees on the foreshore, sticky clay and a cliff. The walk takes about 30 to 40 minutes.
♦ To find the Ramsholt Arms, just past Shottisham Hall is a narrow road leading to Ramsholt. Follow this and look for a narrow road signposted to the public house. This signpost can be difficult to see, but is just after a long straight part of the road followed by a sudden bend. The turnoff is actually on the bend itself.
♦ Ref: 52.03474°N, 1.34640°E
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦♦ – Ramsholt has yielded fossils from its foreshore for many years. The small beach is also popular with those wishing to moor their boats and picnic or barbeque on the beach. Many are surprised to find fossils, such as sharks’ teeth, simply lying on the beach.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦ – This location is ideal for children. Fossils can easily be found on the foreshore, but children should stay away during winter high tides.
ACCESS: ♦♦ – Ramsholt is hard to find and, once you do get to it, it is a long walk to the cliffs. This takes about 30 to 40 minutes depending on how fast you walk and the conditions of the footpath. During the winter, the walk is hard going along a very muddy and slippery footpath.
TYPE: – Fossils are mostly found on the foreshore. All you need to do is get on your hands and knees and beachcomb.
Sharks’ teeth, fish remains, and a wide range of molluscs and mammal remains can be found in the Red Crag. You can also find fossil crabs at Ramsholt, which are derived and can be found in the Red Crag basement bed. Many other fossils can be found in this bed, including lobsters, fish remains, sharks’ teeth and vertebras. In fact, since these are derived, you never really know what you might find.
You can also find wonderful corals, regular sea urchins, and many types of shells and bryozoans, all from the Coralline Crag.
From the London Clay, sharks’ teeth and other remains can be found, including fragments of fish, turtles, crabs, lobsters and snakes. Shark and fish remains are the most common.
In fact, there is a wide range of fossils to be found at Ramsholt. One of the best collecting spots seems to be near the tree with a rope’ hanging from it. There is a mixture of fossils in this area, with sharks’ teeth from the London Clay and derived from the Red Crag, along with crabs (both whole and in pieces). Ray plates and fish teeth are also very common. Expect to find almost anything, as this is an excellent site for London Clay collecting. Look especially around the trees, as fossils get caught under the branches.
On the shoreline at the base of cliff, you can find wonderful corals from the Coralline Crag. These are usually in excellent condition and can be cleaned to a bright-white when soaked or bleached to look even better. These can also be found among the shingle and clay, especially around the rope area (see above) at the western end during scouring tides.
When the basement bed is scoured out, you should find a layer full of pebbles. Within this layer are crabs, sharks’ teeth, ray plates and other fossils. The best beds are those near the rope, which yield a vast number of teeth and crabs. These fossils are washed down from the bed and deposited on the foreshore. At the western end, shells from the crag are exposed along the entire beach, along with many derived sharks’ teeth, ray plates and other fossils. In fact, there is a wide range of shells to be found from both crags, which make for ideal collecting for any crag enthusiast. There is such a vast amount of collecting to be done, you can spend hours at Ramsholt and still only cover a very small part of the location.
The London Clay is well exposed at Ramsholt. Nodules can contain excellent fossil specimens, such as crabs, which are washed out from the beds on the foreshore. At the eastern end, the London Clay can be seen as a small cliff. This dips to the west to be exposed along the foreshore. In the middle, because of a cliff fall, the Coralline Crag has slipped above the Red Crag in the upper part of the cliff face. At the western end below beach level, the Coralline Crag is found with the Red Crag at its normal position, that is, above the Coralline Crag. The foreshore here is mixed between both Red Crag and Coralline Crag, which can make collecting a little confusing.
The Red Crag is also at the eastern end above the London Clay, where the Coralline Crag is missing. The basement bed contains many excellent derived fossils. This is at beach level at the western end. The bed contains a vast amount of small black pebbles, which can best be seen around the area with a rope hanging from a tree.
The basement bed is also frequently washed out at the middle part of the cliff section, where it originally slipped; and further landslides caused the Coralline Crag to rest on this. Therefore, the middle section of the cliff can be extremely confusing. The sequence actually goes: Red Crag, Coralline Crag, Red Crag, Red Crag basement bed, Coralline Crag, and London Clay.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should be used and knowledge of tide times is essential. The main issue to be aware of is the tide, as this reaches the base of the cliff. The fallen trees can make it easy to become cut off, so it is best to visit this location on a falling tide.
The fossils from Ramsholt are usually found on the foreshore. However, blocks of hard London Clay also contain fossils, so it is best to take a pick to break these up. For most fossils, you will only need good eyes. However, Wellington boots are recommended during the winter and directly after high tides.
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 – Ramsholt