Dalmellington Burns

There are a few burns around the village of Dalmellington, which have cut into fossiliferous Carboniferous shale. The most common finds are mussels, but plant remains can also be found. This location is best visited after a dry spell, because, if the water is too high, the beds are not exposed.


♦ There are several burns near Dalmellington that are fossiliferous. The most famous is the Cummock Burn, which can be found opposite Camlarg House, 380m upstream from the manse bridge. It can be reached by the track/road to the left, as you leave Dalmellington on the B741.
♦ North of the village of Craigmark, there are some partial exposures. Four deep stream gorges cut through the hillside here and the most westerly gorge, which runs parallel to the road leading to Craigmark Hill, is also fossiliferous.
♦ Near Benbeoch and Benbain (see 1:25,000 map), Blackburn, 365m northwest of Benbain Cottage.
♦ Ref: 55.32845°N, 4.39407°W


FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦ – Fossils in the Dalmellington burns can be hard to find, especially if the water level is high. Having said that, this is a classic location and some excellent specimens have been found over the years.
CHILDREN: ♦♦ – We do not recommend children to this visit site. Some of the burns are very deep and the water can be dangerous in places.
ACCESS: ♦♦ – The burns can be very hard to find, so you will need an OS 1:25,000 scale map.
TYPE: – Fossils can be found in the river and stream beds, which cut through Carboniferous rocks.


There are several burns that can be visited in this area. Generally, you need to search the Carboniferous shales in the stream beds, splitting them if possible to look for mussels and plant remains. We also recommend buying an OS 1:25,000 scale map to help you locate the burns.


n the right bank of the Cummock Burn opposite Camlarg House, 365m upstream from the Manse Bridge and east of the village, the overlying strata include several bands of shale with mussels. There are also large sections that are highly fossiliferous below the Ayr Hard Coal horizon, about 90m from the Manse Bridge. These have yielded Anthracomya adamsi and other bivalves.

North of the village of Craigmark (to the north of Dalmellington), there are further exposures, where four deep stream gorges cut through the hillside. The most westerly gorge, which runs parallel to the road leading to Craigmark Hill, also contains fossiliferous rocks.

Near Benbeoch and Benbain, Black Burn, 365m northwest of Benbain Cottage, there are pale grey and white strata consisting of soft shale that is about 30m below the Sillyhole Coal layer. These are extremely rich in fossils.


The Sloanstone Coal (Dalmellington) here is from the Upper Carboniferous (Silesian), Westphalian Stage, Duckmantian Substage and the rocks are 310myrs old.

It outcrops along the right bank of the Cummock Burn, opposite Camlarg House. The overlying strata include several bands of shale with mussels from the higher levels of the Modiolaris zone.

North of the village of Craigmark, four deep stream gorges cut through the Sillyhole Coal (Dalmellington), which is very rich in fossils. These can be found in soft pale grey and white shale. This formation is the same age as the Sloanstone Coal.

Dalmellington Burns


The Dalmellington Burns are usually quite shallow and safe to collect from. However, after heavy rain or during winter months, the rivers can be quite deep and the currents strong. Collecting is almost impossible during these times, as the beds are not accessible.


A pick is very handy at this location. You will also need plenty of paper to wrap up your finds.


6a4bfbf50b99eb839741fb99dca95014f77f693a_hq.jpgScotland’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. 

It is important to follow our ‘Code of Conduct’ when collecting fossils or visiting any site. Please also read our ‘Terms and Conditions


Buy Fossils, Crystals, Tools
Location Discussions
Deposits Magazine
Join Fossil Hunts
UK Fossils Network