At Beckton Bunny, the continuation of the Barton Beds yield brachiopods, gastropods and bivalves. However, the shells are far more sporadic than at Barton on Sea and tend often to be broken. During scouring, exposure of the Chama Beds yields the best specimens.
♦ Beckton Bunny can be found at the eastern end of Barton on Sea.
♦ From the A337, drive to Barton on Sea. You will find three car parks at the East end, along the sea front. There are two methods of access to this location:
♦ Along the seafront at Barton on Sea, you will see a cafe and just past this is a large car park. Park here and walk down the slipway to the beach. However, it is a long walk from this point. You will pass rocks placed as a sea defence. Continue until the footpath takes you round the point and onto the beach.
♦ To avoid this long walk, which is not suitable for the young/very old, drive to the very end of the sea front (Marine Drive) and park at the small car park.
♦ Then walk across the path to the east. Continue through the woodland, passing the golf course and down to the beach through Beckton Bunny.
♦ You will need to climb down to get access to the beach.
♦ Ref: SZ 23940 92840
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦ – Fossils from Becton Bunny are far less common than at the main section at Barton on Sea and are often broken. Having said that, there are a few hard, limestone blocks along the foreshore, which contain excellent shells. These have come from the Stone Band, which is below beach level. Most of these have either been washed from Barton on Sea or washed from offshore deposits.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – Even if access is made by means of the longer, more accessible route, the sea is often close to the cliffs here and these are extremely dangerous.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – Access is not too bad, but coming either from Barton on Sea or Beckton Bunny is a fairly long walk. The cliffs are also extremely unstable, with frequent falls. The wonderfully named ‘Beckton Bunny’ itself is a stream and chine, which cuts through the clay to the beach.
TYPE: – Fossils are found both in the slipped cliffs and also on the foreshore. The best shells to collect are in hard limestone blocks along the foreshore, which can be split. These have come from the Stone Band, below beach level, which is Bed G. Most of these have either been washed from Barton on Sea or from offshore deposits.
There are no restrictions on collecting at this site, so hammering and collecting is permitted. However, we ask that you to follow our fossil code of conduct, which can be found using the link below.
For most casual collectors, visiting Beckton Bunny would seem questionable when far better and more frequent shells can be collected from Barton on Sea, which can be accessed from Highcliffe. However, for those more interesting in the Barton sequence and who have visited Barton on Sea before, the chance to find molluscs not found at Barton on Sea will make a visit worthwhile. Beds I, J, K and L are all only found at Beckton Bunny. These contain some shells, which differ to those from lower beds.
In addition, the Barton Beds here are often sheer, unlike the slipped clay at Barton on Sea, enabling you to see a good section of the upper beds. While beds J, K and L can also be seen at Taddiford Gap, these sections at Beckton Bunny are badly slipped.
The best bed to collect from is that is one that is below beach level, near the rocks at the very end of Barton on Sea. Here, the Chama Bed, a layer of sandy clay, which can be easy to dig in when exposed, yields the eponymous bivalve Chama squamosa, as well as other bivalves including Glycymeris deleta, Crassatella tenuisulcata and Cardita oblonga. It also includes gastropods such as Conorbis dormitor, Hemiconus scabriculus and Pollia lavata. The main Beckton Bunny Bed consists of brown clays and yields marine molluscs, including gastropods such as Pollia and Olivella, as well as bivalves such as Nucula and Pitar, estuarine gastropods, such as Potamides and Bayania, and the bivalve Corbicula.
At the top of the cliffs, Pleistocene gravels can be seen. Below this, the Barton Beds H to L make up the remaining section of cliff. Below the gravels, Bed L is the lignite bed, consisting of black clays and crushed shells.
Below this, Bed K is the Long Mead End Bed, which consists of various sands and in which molluscs can be found. Bed J follows this, which is the most important bed, being the Beckton Bunny Bed. This consists of clays with numerous marine mollusc species. These are often very fragile and can break if you are not careful. Below this bed are sands. These make up over half of the section near to the start of the Barton on Sea sea defences and are not fossiliferous.
The best bed (Bed H, which is the Chama Bed) is below this. This contains well-preserved molluscs in a sandy clay deposits and is often exposed near to the rocks. However, it can also be covered up, depending on the time of year and beach conditions.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used and prior knowledge of tide times is essential. The cliffs at Beckton Bunny are extremely dangerous – they are sheer, constantly being eroded and very unstable. The sea also comes fairly close to the cliffs most of the time and you can easily get cut off.
You don’t really need any tools here to collect, as most fossils can be picked up from the foreshore. Knee pads may be useful.
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.