Along the seafront at Edinburgh, Carboniferous rocks yield fossil plant remains, crinoid stems and shells. Most of the best beds have been over-collected, but there are still lots of fossils to be found.
♦ Head onto the Edinburgh Bypass (A720) until it ends at a large junction. Here, take the A199 to Edinburgh city centre. Then take the B6415 along the seafront to Joppa Shore.
♦ Park along the road and walk over the grass embankment, where you will see a small wall. You can climb over this and walk along the concrete slipway.
♦ Ref: 55.94949°N, 3.08690°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦ – Fossils from this site are quite common, but the brachiopods and crinoids can be poorly preserved and worn.
CHILDREN: ♦ – Due to the small climb over the wall at Joppa Shore, we cannot recommend this location for families.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – Joppa Shore has good parking nearby and, being in Edinburgh, has plenty of shops, cafes and so on.
TYPE: – Fossils at Joppa can be found on the foreshore.
This site is a SSSI, so do not hammer the strata and collect only from loose material.
The most common finds at Joppa are plant stem remains, although you can also find crinoids and brachiopods. Most of the crinoids are quite worn and the brachiopods are also poorly preserved. The best beds are to the east, but these have mostly been over collected.
All of the fossils can be found on the foreshore, where there should be plenty of loose material. Search the pebbles and loose shale, which has been washed away from the foreshore exposures.
The rocks along the shore run horizontally. At the eastern end, there was once a seam from the Lower Coal Measures, which was dug away long ago. This was over one metre thick. Dark grey mudstones contain fossil shells and plant material. Further west and the Passage Formation can be seen consisting of thick sandstones. The base of this bed can be seen furthest out to sea at low tide. Within this formation, there are limited marine bands, which contain some fossil shells.
Next, the Castlecary Limestone is four metres thick. This is where most of the fossil shells and crinoids come from.At the western end of the section, the upper limestone formation contains thin coal seams. Below these are the sandstones, which have been used as building stones when Joppa Quarry was once open. The mudstones and siltstones contain fossil shells and plant remains.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used and prior knowledge of tide times is essential. You can get easily become cut off by the tide here. Note that access to the shore is difficult, because you have to climb over a wall to get to the shore.
A splitting pick is very handy at this location. You will also need plenty of paper to wrap up your finds.
Most of the fossils can be found by searching the loose material on the foreshore. This is a SSSI, so hammering is not permitted 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.