The highly productive Speeton Clay yields ammonites, fish, shells and crustaceans. This location is similar to the famous Folkestone Beds. Speeton is also an excellent location for all the family, but can be very sticky in winter months.
♦ Access can be made directly from the cliffs at Speeton. However, these are often changing and can be unpredictable. Therefore, we recommend going to Reighton Sands and then walking to Speeton, which is not far.
♦ To the north of the village of Reighton, along the A165, you will see signs to the Reighton Sands Holiday Village. Take this road, passing the holiday village to Reighton Gap. You will come to a gravel car parking area with a walk down to the beach.
♦ The concrete slipway down is badly slipped, being cracked and worn with parts that are a little steep. Near the bottom, the path can be muddy and slippery. Once on the beach, walk southeast until you get to Speeton Cliffs.
♦ Ref: 54.16254°N, 0.23310°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦ – Speeton yields excellent ammonites and belemnites. Sometimes, these are found in nodules. However, shrimps and even reptile remains can also all be found, often during the scouring season or after heavy rains. In fact, fossils are very easy to find – you don’t need any tools – rather you can just pick them out of the clay.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – This location is sometimes suitable for children. The problem is that the site changes frequently, with times of excellent access and other times of poor access with a steep descent. However, there is a lovely sandy beach for children to play on, which extends quite a way out. This can be an ideal day out for the family, but access may have to be made from Reighton.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – Access to Speeton is best from Reighton Sands and you can do both locations at the same time. Head to the Reighton Sands Holiday Village and park at the top of the cliff.
TYPE: – Most fossils can be found on the foreshore, especially after storms or scouring conditions, but they are also commonly found in the cliff and scree slopes.
Ammonites, belemnites, shrimps, reptiles, fish, echinoids and microfossils can all be found. Most fossils at Speeton can be found by searching at the base of the cliff and scree slopes, especially after heavy rain or winter high tides. Heavy rain washes fossils down from the clay and these can be picked up at the base. Sometimes, the foreshore can be scoured out and this also makes excellent collecting opportunity. In addition, sometimes fossils can be seen sticking out of the cliff face, but the vast majority are found at the base or on the foreshore.
You can also visit both the Red and White Chalk. Search the foreshore boulders for fossils such as echinoids and belemnites.
The Speeton Clay is from the Aptian to Middle Albian of the Lower Cretaceous and is about 100myrs old. At Speeton, the Speeton Clay formation is split into four beds: Beds A, B, C and D. Bed D starts from just past the Reighton Gap holiday camp, past New Closes cliff. Bed C starts from Black Cliff up to Speeton Beck, and Beds B and A start from Speeton Beck up to Red Cliff Hole. However, the entire formation is usually slipped, so it is often very difficult to pinpoint any particular horizon without finding the relevant fossils. The Speeton Clay Formation comprises mudstones, cement stones and sporadic bentonites.
Further southeast, you will come to a small outcrop of Red Chalk, followed by the chalk. There are also some good sections of glacial material just after the clay.
Speeton is also an excellent location for microfossils. Samples of the Speeton Clay can be taken home and broken down in warm soapy water. Leave for a few days, and then use sieves of 300 and 500 microns to sieve the sediment. You will need a microscope to view the fossils. Foraminifer and Ostracods are common, along with sea urchin spines, teeth and fragments of bone. Molluscs, such as gastropods, are also common. You only need a small amount of sample.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should be used and knowledge of tide times is essential. The Speeton Clay can be very sticky, so you should take care not to get stuck in the clay. The cliffs are always crumbling and cliff falls are common, especially after heavy rain. Therefore, keep away from the base of the cliff, especially where there are overhangs.
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.
During scouring tides, fossils can be simply picked up from the foreshore, however picks and knives are handy to get fossils out of the clay.