Filey Brigg is a very famous foreshore platform that extends a long way out at low tide. Many walk along the Brigg, but often do not realise that superb plants and shells can be collected near the cliffs next to it.
♦ Head to the north side of Filey and towards the North Cliff Country Park. The huge car park, complete with toilets and a cafe, used to be the site of the old Butlins at Filey.
♦ Park here and you will find a path taking you along the cliff. Steps take you down to the beach, allowing you to access the north and south sides, where you can find fossils both to the north and south of the Brigg.
♦ Ref: TA 12523 81575
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – Filey yields plant remains along with bivalves. You can normally return with some good finds, but will need to split rocks to have a good chance. You can also explore the boulder clay south of the Brigg, which can yield a variety of fossils that have been brought here as erratics by glaciers.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – Filey Brigg is an ideal location for the family. Filey is also a seaside town with everything you need, and lots to see and do. The south cliff has a sandy beach and the north side and around the Brigg can be quite rocky, but a concrete beach path from the old Butlins holiday site is still present and can easily be used for access.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – The site has easy access, although it can be a steep walk down for older or young children. The country park has toilets and food.
TYPE: – Most of the fossils can be found within the rocks on the foreshore or at the south cliff sticking out of scree at the bottom of the cliffs.
Search the foreshore for fossil bivalves around the Brigg and also search the boulders. In addition, you can find fossils in the scree slopes at the base of the cliff. The upper beds of the Hambleton Oolite can be seen at the south side of the Brigg, which consists of very fossiliferous limestone containing well preserved ammonites and bivalves (Cardioceras and Perisphinctes, respectively).
The north side tends to be less fossiliferous and mainly yields trace fossils in the lower beds of the Hambleton Oolite and the sandstones of the Passage Beds member. Fossil plants can also be found just south of the Brigg. The south cliff is made up of boulder clay and contains fossils, such as belemnites, ammonites and brachiopods, loose in the clay. These are erratics, brought down by the last ice age from the north.
The rocky, E–W-trending coastal promontory of Filey Brigg extends for nearly 1.5 km along the north side of Filey Bay
It provides a continuous section from the top of the Lower Calcareous Grit Formation through 14m of the Coralline Oolite Formation. Much of the latter is present in a sandy facies transitional from Hambleton Oolite into Birdsall Calcareous Grit.
The Tenants’ Cliff Member of the Lower Calcareous Grit is present here as a tough, thick-bedded, calcareous sandstone. Though well exposed, it is only seen at low tide at the base of the precipitous cliffs.
The Saintoft Member displays the regular rows of large calcareous concretions resemblingcannon balls from which the original name ‘Ball Beds’ came. The concretions are not particularly fossiliferous on the coast
The lowest 0.6 m of the Passage Beds consists of heavily bioturbated sandstone resting on an erosion surface cut in the Saintoft Member. Above is the main Passage Bed limestone: almost 2m of grey-weathering limestone in six beds. Nanogyra colonies weather out, and there are many Gervillella valves in the top two beds, both dissociated and in life position
A major bedding plane marks the base of the Hambleton Oolite Member, whose Lower Leaf contains several massive beds of oolite, with extensive networks of Thalassinoides burrows that weather out in spectacular fashion in the large transported blocks in the centre of the Brigg. The Brigg itself is formed of the tough calcareous sandstone of the Birdsall Calcareous Grit. Towards the base there are calcareous concretions with shelly bands containing occasional ammonites.
The Upper Leaf of the Hambleton Oolite is seen excellently in the low cliff on the southern side of the Brigg. Numerous limestone-infilled Thalassinoides burrows descend from the base of the Upper Leaf into the soft sandstone of the Birdsall Calcareous Grit. The tough, impure limestone contains well-preserved bivalves and ammonites. The higher beds are cut out by ice action at the base of the glacial till.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should be used and knowledge of tide times is essential. This part of the coastline is very dangerous as a result of tidal conditions, so make sure you return before the tide turns. Keep away from the base of the cliffs, as rock falls are very common. Hard hats are recommended.
This site is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). This means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted. For full information about the reasons for the status of the site and restrictions, download the PDF from Natural England.
A Hammer and splitting chisel are recommended at this location. A pick will also come in handy. Suitable footwear should also be worn. Any fossils should be wrapped well and placed carefully into containers, try not to rub fossils and treat as soon as possible.