Lady Burn is a very famous site for fossils in Scotland. It has highly fossiliferous rocks, including three famous starfish beds and some superb, complete trilobites can be found. There are many different fossils to be found here and you are sure to find something
♦ From the A77, just north of Girvan, turn right down the B741 towards Dailly immediately after the last roundabout. At Craighead, take the minor road on your left to Drummuck. Follow this until you get to the ‘giveway’ sign at Drummuck. Turn left and continue until Crossroads, where you need to turn right.
♦ Follow this road past the large North Threave Farm. At the second smaller farm (East Threave), park in the space just outside their drive. The owners allow this, providing you leave space for farm vehicles and there is only one car parked here at any one time.
♦ Walk back up the road you just came from (west) and start counting the fields on the left. At the end of the second field and, at the start of the third, there is a large double gate leading to both the second and third fields. This is the only double gate on this side between North Threave and East Threave. If you reach North Threave, you have gone too far. The double-gate should be easy to find.
♦ Go through the first gate (second field) and make sure you shut it behind you. The farmer kindly gives permission to enter this field, so respect this and put the chain fully round the gate as you found it. Then, walk south, following the fence on the right. The field descends and then ascends again over a small hill. Keep the fence on the right. Once you are at the top of this small hill, you will see the burn.
♦ Descend the slope, where you will see a small style provided for walkers to get over the fence at the back of this field. Climb over and start descending to the left. At the bottom, cross over the burn and then go left (west) along the embankment, which will climb steeply uphill.
♦ As you climb the hill on the opposite side of the burn, when you reach the top, you should see some small pits where excavation has been carried out. There is a large pit right on top and, over in a dip, there are many others.♦ Ref: 55.29557°N, 4.76136°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦♦ – Trilobites, starfish, brachiopods, bivalves, orthocones, gastropods, goniatites, crinoids, bryozoans, corals and cephalopods can all be found here. In fact, Lady Burn is a famous location that yields a high number of finds, including large complete trilobites and starfish, as well as many other fossils.
CHILDREN: ♦ – This location is not suitable for children.
ACCESS: ♦♦ – PERMISSION REQUIRED. Reckless damage to this SSSI could result in prosecution under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.
This is a strictly controlled SSSI and you cannot just turn up at the site – you will need a permit. Scottish Natural Heritage will prosecute all those found ignoring this ruling to the full extent of the law. Therefore, you should contact the SNH for information before visiting this location.
TYPE: – Most of the fossils are found in the small pits and cuttings at the top of the hill on the opposite side of the burn. However, the first fossils recorded from this location where from the burn itself, so this is worth a look, although, most of your time should be spend at the top of the hill in the pits.
SSSI – permission is strictly required for access. While access to the burn is through the fields, the double gate and fields belong to North Threave Farm. The Burn itself flows onto Farden Farm property, which is owned by the Queen’s Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire. Note that entering this land is trespassing. Therefore it is vital that you obtain specific written permission to visit the location and collect fossils. Even if you do not use a hammer or other tools, collecting is strictly prohibited under Scottish Law. The SNH will prosecute all those found ignoring this to the full extent of the law.
The first fossils found at Lady Burn, came from the burn itself. Although fossils can still be collected this way, by far the best fossils are found at the top of the hill on the opposite side of the burn. Here, past excavations made for scientific study, as well as small pits and trenches made by collectors over the years, yield most of the fossils.
The rocks are constantly being weathered and crumble, so there is plenty of loose material to search through. There are a number of pits and trenches, but the best one is the largest with a face revealing a good section of the Farden Formation. Unlike most formations, in which fossils are normally found in horizons, at Lady Burn you will find pockets of fossils. You will often see the same fossil type in the same rock, but other rocks at that horizon may not contain any fossils.
The Lady Burn Formation and Farden Member from the Ordovician (which are 445myrs old) are the most famous and most highly fossiliferous rocks in the Girvan area.
The Lady Burn Formation is pale grey, poorly bedded with nodular siltstones and mudstones. It is also very shelly. The formation is part of the Drummock Subgroup, from the Ashgill Series, which is from a wider group of rocks – the Arfmillan Group of Caradoc age. The Lady Burn Formation is dated as Rawtheyan, approximately 446.5 to 445.6 Mya.
Below this, the Farden Member is equally famous, being a bed of greyish-green, well-bedded silty mudstones with thinly bedded greenish-black fine-to-medium-grained sandstones in the upper part. This member includes the three very famous starfish beds near the top of the member. It is part of the South Threave Formation, a unit of rocks also within the Drummuck Subgroup. The Farden Member is aged as Rawtheyan.
Below this, the Farden Member is equally famous, being a bed of greyish-green, well-bedded silty mudstones with thinly bedded greenish-black fine-to-medium-grained sandstones in the upper part. This member includes three famous starfish beds at the top of the sequence.
Be aware that you will need to walk through a field of cows. While they are normally harmless, be cautious and try to keep away from them, particularly when they have calves. The best advice is to ignore them. If they feel you are looking at them, they may feel threatened. In addition, take care in the burn, as it can be slippery.
This site is an SSSI. This Special Site of Scientific Interest, means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted.