There are two locations for fossils at Elie. The first is Elie Shore where, during scouring conditions and winter months, brachiopods, bivalves, sponges and trilobite fragments can be found. Nearby, the rocks at Wood Haven also contain fossils
♦ From the A917, take the road through Elie and follow it all the way to the harbour.
♦ There is a car park right at the end, with views across the bay.
♦ Ref: 56.18660°N, 2.81920°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦ – Although the fossils can be poorly preserved at this location, there is plenty to be found and the rocks are full of corals and shells.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦♦ – Elie is ideal for families. It is near to shops and has excellent parking facilities. As well as fossils, the beach is ideal for children.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦ – Elie has excellent access to the beach – you don’t have to walk far and there is a car park at the harbour.
TYPE: – The fossil corals are mostly found in the rocks on the foreshore, but can also be seen in the cliff face.
Fossils that can normally be found are brachiopods (Brachythyris ovalis), gastropods (Emuphemites urli, Reetispira striata, Straparollus carbonarius), scaphods (Dentalium), bivalves (Anthraconauta semicircular, Cypricardella rectangularis, Dunbarella sp, Senilis, Lithophage lingalis, Parallodon semicostatus, Pernopecten, Sanguinolitesclavatus striatomellosus, Plicactus, Schizodus sp, Solenomorpha minor and Streblochondria sp), cephalopods (including orthocone nautiloids), ostracods and trilobite fragments. The sponge, Hyyalostella parallela, is also quite common.
There is so much to be found, but the beach conditions need to be right. The beds run horizontally, so the formations change as you go further down the beach, with the hardest rocks well exposed running parallel across the beach and the softer beds covered with sand. It is these beds that are of interest, with the harder beds badly covered by seaweed,
At and from the middle part of the bay at Elie, the complete formation from the Neilson Shell Bed to the mid-Kenny Limestone is exposed. The problem is that most of the time, the fossiliferous beds are covered with sand, with the harder unfossiliferous rocks exposed, but largely covered with seaweed. There are actually much softer beds in between these harder layers and these latter beds are the ones which are of interest.
From the car park, the opposite end of the bay (looking towards the lighthouse) has a very rocky foreshore with cliffs. The rocks here are volcanic, but contain fossils in sandy deposits.
The rocks here are Carboniferous from the Dinantian. At Wood Haven, the rocks are volcanic, interbedded with sandy deposits, basalt lava flows and shale, with occasional pyroclastic rocks.
From the same stage at Elie Shore, the complete Lower Limestone Formation (including the Neilsons Shell Bed to the Kenny Limestone) is exposed during scouring conditions.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used and prior knowledge of tide times is essential. You can get easily cut off by the tide, so ensure you return in good time.
The rocks are soft and crumble very easily, including the shale. Picks are ideal for this. At Elie Shore, the beds are often covered during the summer months, but, at Wood Haven, the rock is well exposed at all times.
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.