Ammonites, Belemnites and reptile remains can be found in the Boulder Clay, along with many erratic rocks full of shells. The foreshore sometimes yields fossil wood, fossil seeds and bone from the forest bed during times of scouring. This used to be a highly productive site, but the sea defence limits scouring.
♦ Drive to ‘Hopton-on-Sea’. From the South, you should see a road on the right hand side called ‘Beach Road’, take this road.
♦ There is a signpost saying ‘No Access to Beach’, this is due to the limited parking, however just before this sign ‘Beach Road’ veers to the right down a narrow lane.
♦ At the end of the road, there is spaces for three cars on the left hand side.
♦ Please note, there is no access from Corton Village anymore, so you have to park at Hopton and return.
♦ Ref: 52.52986°N, 1.74110°E
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – Although the sea defences limits collecting, the beach does still scour and rain keeps fresh exposures of Boulder Clay. Fossils can also be found during storms when the sea defences fail. Belemnites are the most common find here. The best time to collect is after heavy rain which washes the Boulder Clay from the top beds down the cliff.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦ – The wave baffles keep the sea away, and so this area is safe for children providing they keep away from sheer cliff. Because the sea no longer washes the cliffs, and the rain is responsible for the erosion, most of the cliff is at 45 degrees or less, but be careful especially after heavy rain. There is an excellent sandy beach for children to play at Hopton-on-Sea.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – Access has changed for this location, you used to park at Pleasurewood Hills and walk along the sea wall. However after defence repairs, this is now closed, but the alternative route is much safer and suitable for children. by parking at Hopton-on-Sea is is a fairly short walk to the site, and sandy beaches make it ideal for families.
TYPE: – Most fossils are found in the scree slopes where the boulder clay has slipped down from the top after heavy rain. Large erratic’s which have fallen down and have been washed out, can also be found along the beach, especially near the wave baffles. Some of these contain fossils and can be split with a hammer. During scouring, the forest bed can be seen exposed on the foreshore which also contains fossil wood and seeds.
From the Boulder Clay, fossils of a wide variety can be found including ammonites, reptile remains, belemnites and shells. Ichthyosaurs vertebrae have been found in these slippages and also within nodules from the clay. There are so many Jurassic erratics, that some of the rocks are full of shells, and occasionally if you split some of these, they will yield fossils. Fossils can also be found in the chalk erratics such as echinoids, but these are less common.
On the foreshore to the northern end of Corton Cliffs, blue forest beds that are rich in fossil wood and seeds, can sometimes yield bones, but the brown forest bed at the southern end is unfossiliferious.
Collecting is best done after intense heavy rainfall, which causes slippages from the top Bolder clay beds. Cliff falls are not common, but slippages take place regularly during winter months which is sufficient for collecting.
During the second ice-advance in the Pliocene age gave rise to the Lower Chalky Boulder Clay, of a Jurassic type being deposited during the ice age. This clay rests on the Corton beds and contains fossils including various types of ammonites, bones and shells. Because it is deposited, you can find a huge variation. It is a shame that Corton was protected by the sea, otherwise this would be a highly productive site.
At the base of the cliff you can see the Forest bed, at the southern end, this is brown and unfossiliferious, but the northern end of Corton Cliffs, this is often exposed on the foreshore as a blue bed containing fossil wood, seeds and occasional bones.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should be taken and knowledge of tide times should always be noted. At Corton, the wave baffles keep back the sea, although during stormy conditions, waves can pass over these. Cliff falls do occur after heavy rain. The main danger is at the Southern end of Corton. There is NO ACCESS to Corton village anymore since the sea originally destroyed part of the defence, and the answer was to dump granite blocks in front of the cliff. They have blocked the old footpath along the seawall. However, access is easy via Hopton-on-Sea.
Most of the fossils at Corton are found by searching on the foreshore, but a pick would be very handy for any large finds in the clay. We also recommend that you take bags or specimen field boxes to put your finds in.
There are no restrictions at this site, but please follow our code of conduct below.
It is important to follow our ‘Code of Conduct’ when collecting fossils or visiting any site. Please also read our ‘Terms and Conditions‘