This is another location along the Holderness Coastline, which is constantly being eroded. The boulder clay yields rocks from various ages in which you can find fossils. This site is not so fast eroding as others, but is still a location where fossils can be found.
♦ From the north, follow the B1242 to Withernsea. There is lane, the first road on the left as you enter the town, that takes you along the seafront.
♦ You can either park in the large free car park and walk south, where you will find steps to the beach; or there is enough parking for two cars further along the road where the houses start, near the steps.
♦ From here, walk back north.
♦ Note that access may change without notice, due to coastal erosion.Note that access may change without notice, due to coastal erosion.
♦ Ref: TA 33733 28755
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ -This location doesn’t have as rapid erosion as others along the coast, so the sea doesn’t hit the cliffs as much. Because of this, it is not so good as the other main Holderness localities, but still worth a visit.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦ – The beach is near to the town with many facilities including shops and toilets, so is ideal for children. However, keep them away from the cliff face.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦ –There is free parking at the top of the cliff, with easy access by steps onto the beach.
TYPE: – You can find fossils in the scree, in the foreshore exposures and in the cliff face. The sea often washes out fresh material, so there is always plenty to look through. Often, especially after high tides, the sea will sieve the clay for you, taking all of the fine clay material away and dumping rocks and fossils along the foreshore, making it easy pickings for fossil hunters. The best fossils are found by splitting rocks.
The Holderness Coastline is famously known for its rapid erosion and, as such, the topic for many school projects in geography lessons. Attempts to slow down the rapid rate of erosion have failed and, in some cases, has made the situation much worse. Due to this erosion, access is only possible at some locations.
At Withernsea, the cliffs are currently being eroded faster than anywhere else along this coastline, so there are many more rocks to look through on the beach. These rapid erosion rates make this area an excellent place to collect fossils regularly, knowing that almost every time you visit, fresh material will be available to search through.
The fossils are erratics. In other words, they do not come from the actual deposits that they are found in. In fact, they were brought down during the last ice age, dragged from the north trapped in giant ice sheets and dumped along the Holderness Coastline. You can find almost anything from the Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks of Yorkshire and also a number of Carboniferous rocks. Fossils include ammonites, belemnites, echinoids, corals and molluscs (which are the most common), but you can also find reptile remains if you are luckily. While this makes it more exciting, you can never fully date these fossils, as it is impossible to tell exactly what bed they originally came from.
Search the scree, in the slipped material and on the foreshore for fossils. Often, the sea will do most of the work for you, acting like a giant sieve and dropping the fossils along the foreshore. However, they can be well hidden, trapped in the clay and under rocks. Some of the best fossils are inside the rocks, so it is ideal to take a hammer and safety glasses to break these rocks apart. Look for the signs of fossils. For example, there are a number of rocks full of worn ammonites on the outside. If you split these rocks using a splitting chisel, you will find many complete ammonites in excellent condition inside.
Withernsea is part of the Holderness Coastline and due to its rapid erosion rates, is often the subject for study in school geography lessons. Holderness is underlain by Cretaceous chalk from the Flamborough Chalk Formation (White Chalk Subgroup) but along this coastline, it is so deeply buried beneath the glacial deposits that it is never exposed on the beach. The chalk probably lies at around 60 to 70 feet (18 to 21 m) under the sand, gravel and clay beds and possibly deeper.
The cliffs are primarily Boulder Clay; deposits of till with erratics, deposited during the Devensian glaciation period (of Pleistocene age). Within these deposits, you will find many erratics and it is these that contain the Carboniferous, Jurassic and Cretaceous fossils.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should be used and knowledge of tide times is essential. The Holderness coastline, and especially the area at Withernsea, has strong currents. The sea often reaches the base of the cliff, so this area experiences rapid erosion. Only visit on a falling tide. Access can vary due to the erosion, so only access locations that are not only safe to get down to, but also safe to get back up again.
A pick is handy for the clay, but generally, all you need is a good eye. Remember to wrap your finds. A hammer and eye protection may also come in handy to break any rocks. Trainers or walking boots will be fine, unless you are visiting after exceptionally high tides, when the clay may be quite sticky.
There are no restrictions at this location, but you should always collect sensible and safely, please see our code of conduct below.
This location is on old MOD land, parking is free at the top of the cliff.