A Jurassic fault along the Balintore foreshore is well exposed here. Fossil oysters are quite common, but belemnites can also be found. In addition, during the right conditions, Jurassic ammonites can be found. The cliffs here consist of Devonian strata.
♦ Head towards Balintore. Follow the road southwest through the town. On the edge of the town, you can park along the side of the road near some houses. There is a hill ahead and the road veers northwest There is a grassy bank with a footpath down to the shore.
♦ From here, walk south for just under 2km. You should then see Jurassic clays and shales exposed on the foreshore.
♦ Ref: 57.73444°N, 3.92790°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦ – To find any fossils, you need a good scour tide, which does not happen very often. In addition, the Jurassic sequence here is not particularly fossiliferous.
CHILDREN: ♦♦ – This location is not suitable for a family day out, because of the rocky foreshore. The low find frequency also makes this location one for more serious, hard-core collectors.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – This location is fairly easy to access, but it represents a fair walk. However, you can park at a housing estate at Balintore and walk along a public footpath to the beach.
TYPE: – The cliffs at Balintore are Devonian, but the fossils are found in the Jurassic rocks exposed on the foreshore.
[This is an SSSI, so hammering the bedrock and cliffs is strictly prohibited.] Oysters and belemnites can be found within the shale on the foreshore. Occasionally, if the nodule bed is exposed, small red-coloured nodules can be found containing well-preserved ammonites. However, this bed is often covered with sand, but fragments of ammonites can sometimes be found around the pebbles and within rock pools.
Fossils can occasionally be found at Port an Righ. Towards where the first sequence ends, there is a lot of shale with corals on the foreshore, with a hard ‘red limestone’ bed running through the middle. This is where the ammonites are found, which can be well preserved.
Nodules can also be found containing well-preserved ammonites. These can be picked up from the beach. Plant material has also been found from the Brora Coal Formation.
The Jurassic beds here are faulted against Devonian Old Red Sandstone. This location is split into two areas: the first just under 2km south from the southern end of Balintore Bay, and the second is about 1km south from where the first Jurassic sequence ends.
The Balintore Formation is dominated by moderately to richly fossiliferous sandstone, sand and sandy siltstone (variously calcareous or glauconitic), and mudstone, bituminous in parts. The formation is about 68 m thick at Balintore.
The lowermost unit the Cadh’-an-Righ Shale Member, is 4.2 m of sparsely fossiliferous bituminous fissile mudstone, with interbedded thin glauconitic siltstone, and includes the 0.5 m thick bioturbated sandstone of the Brora Roof Bed at the base.
The overlying Shandwick Clay Member is about 28 m thick: the lower 24 m are bioturbated grey-green clay with layers of limestone nodules at the base, and the uppermost 4.1 m comprises sandy siltstone.
Above is the Shandwick Siltstone Member – 12.1 m of fossiliferous siltstone, with alternating beds that are more or less calcareous. Overlying it is the Port-an-Righ Ironstone Member, comprising 2.2m of muddy, glauconitic sand with interbedded bands of red-weathering nodular glauconitic limestone, all rich in ammonites. The overlying Port-an-Righ Siltstone Member is 21.7 m thick, and largely consists of relatively sparsely fossiliferous bituminous coarse silt.
This first section is Callovian to Oxfordian in age
The second sequence starts with Lower Kimmeridgian and finishes with sediments from the Estuarine Series, Brora Coal, and Lower and Upper Oxfordian
Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used and prior knowledge of tide times is essential. The tide can reach quite high up the beach at Balintore. Therefore, ensure you return well before high tide. The foreshore can also be very slippery and rocky, so wear suitable footwear.
The foreshore at Balintore often contains clay. Therefore, it is always sensible to take a pick, trowels and blunt knives for this type of location. Note this site is an SSSI, there is no hammering allowed at this location.
This site is an SSSI. This Special Site of Scientific Interest, means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted.
Scotland’s fossil resource is at risk of abuse and damage, and so we must all safeguard and managed fossil collecting to ensure its survival for future generations. For this reason it is VITAL you read and adhere to the Scottish Fossil Code for ALL sites in Scotland.