Hornsea

This location is constantly being eroded by the sea and there are a large number of rocks all over the beach to look through. In fact, it is one of the best along the Holderness Coastline to collect fossils, with plenty of fresh material revealed after every tide.

DIRECTIONS

♦ Head to Hornsea and, at the south end of the town, you will see signs to the beach. Follow this road to a large free car park.
♦ From here, follow the path to the promenade. There is also some parking along the promenade. Walk south to find steps to the beach, passing all the old sea defences, now destroyed by the sea, over some old steps and round the corner.
♦ Once you pass the bend, you will see for yourself how bad erosion is along this coastline. It follows that access may change without notice, due to coastal erosion.
♦ Ref: TA 31633 31510

PROFILE INFO

FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦ -Due to the rapid erosion along this coastline, fresh material is always being washed out. Therefore, you always have a good chance of making some good finds.
CHILDREN: ♦♦ -This location is not suitable for children, because the beach is full of past failed attempts to stop the sea. These are dangerous and sometimes make access difficult. Once you get round the corner from the steps, you will see the cliffs are regularly hit by the sea.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦
There is free parking along the promenade, but be aware that, on the beach, is a large number of past sea defences that you will have to climb round. You can immediately start finding fossils as soon as you enter 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.

FOSSIL HUNTING

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 Hornsea, 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.

DSCF0808

GEOLOGY

Hornsea 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, but along this coastline, it is so deeply buried beneath the glacial deposits that it is never exposed on the beach.

The cliffs are dominated by deposits of till and boulder clays 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.

DSCF0410

SAFETY

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 Hornsea, has strong currents. The sea often reaches the base of the cliff and this location is the most dangerous in Holderness, as this area has extremely 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.

EQUIPMENT

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.

ACCESS RIGHTS

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.

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

LINKS

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