This is a peaceful location where fantastic bryozoans can be seen in Carboniferous rocks. You can also find many slabs of the tracks of trilobites, preserved in the mud over which they crawled. Fish and the trilobites themselves can also be found here.
♦ Take the A198 to Aberlady. The road turns sharply right at the northeast end of the town. At this bend, a narrow road ahead takes you to the golf course. Follow this just past the golf course to where you can park.
♦ In the distance, you can see a small red hut. Follow the coastal path around the edge of the golf course and head towards this hut. The fossiliferous rocks are on the foreshore around and past this structure.
♦ Ref: 56.01322°N, 2.88081°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦♦ – There is plenty to be found at Aberlady – the foreshore rocks are full of bryozoans, corals and shells. Trilobite tracks are also common here.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – Although children can visit Aberlady, they must be supervised, as the foreshore is rocky.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – Aberlady is easy to find, but there is a short walk involved.
TYPE: – Fossils at Aberlady can be found on the foreshore and in the cliffs. However, there are strict SSSI rules – you must not hammer the bedrock, both in the cliffs and on the foreshore
This site is a SSSI. Do not hammer the strata and collect only from the loose material.
There are lots of fossils to be found at Aberlady. Bryozoans and corals are the most common here, with one of the most common corals being the colonial coral, Lithostrotion junceum. These can be seen in foreshore beds, which are several metres thick and are beautiful to see. Do not destroy them. Rather, leave them for others to admire. However, you are allowed to collect any broken or loose pieces on the foreshore. Another coral that is very common looks like macaroni (Lithostrotion pauciradiale). Compound corals, such as Caninia and Zaphrentis, are also common.
There are also many brachiopods to be found here, including Eomarginifera, Avonia, Composita, Pustula, Spirifer and Pugnoides.
Trilobite tracks are very common and you can see complete layers of them in the cliff. Once again, do not damage or remove these and leave them for others to see. These tracks were made by the animal moving through the mud. Trilobites themselves can also be found but are rare; mostly the heads or tails are found. Fish fragments and crinoids, while also quite rare, can also be found.
When you arrive near the red hut, you will start to find brachiopods, corals and so on. These can be found in cobbles and boulders on the foreshore. As you walk past the hut, the boulders get larger and trilobite tracks can be seen in both the cliff face and loose rocks on the foreshore. You will then come to Craigielaw Point. This is where the best bryozoans can be found. Further on, complete beds of corals can be seen exposed on the foreshore.
The rocks here are from the Lower Carboniferous (Dinantian) and the entire headland is worth exploring for its geology and fossils.
Between Gosford Bay and Aberlady Bay the rocks comprise:
- Blackbyre Limestone (formerly Middle Longcraig Limestone) which crops out immediately north east of Craigielaw Point. The Blackbyre Limestone is part of the Lawmuir Formation and part of the Clackmannan Group, (still often referred to as the Aberlady Formation, as part of the Strathclyde Group), consisting of mainly pale coloured sandstones interbedded with grey siltstones and grey to dark grey mudstones.The Blackbyre Limestone is particularly well exposed; here it is dolomitised and yellow-brown in colour, containing not only corals (‘macaroni’ and ‘spaghetti’ rock) but also many kinds of well-preserved brachiopods. The beds containing these are exposed for some 200m to the NE of Craigielaw Point, and form an excellent collecting ground for these fossils. A large dolerite dyke at the western end of the shore terminates this interesting section. The Carboniferous rock is 322 to 331 million years old.
- Blackhall Limestone (formerly the Lower and Upper Skateraw Limestone) is from the Lower Limestone Formation, part of the Clackmannan Group and of Brigantian age, being 326 to 331 million years old. Exposures are found immediately south of Craigielaw Point.
- Inchinnan Limestone, a Carboniferous limestone formed 326 to 331 million years ago, crops out at Craigielaw Point itself.
- Blackbyre Limestone crops out immediately north east of Craigielaw Point
- Hurlet Limestone (previously known as the Upper Longcraig Limestone) crops out as the next rock sequence along the coast (northwards) at Aberlady Point before returning to the Lower Limestone Formation. It is part of the Lower Limestone Formation, which in turn is a component of the Clackmannan Group and Brigantian in age.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used and prior knowledge of tide times is essential. The foreshore is very rocky, so extra care should be taken at this location, especially since some of the rocks are quite sharp.
Most fossils can be found by searching the loose material on the foreshore. Note that 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.
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.