Taddiford Gap is a classic site and well documented for mammal and crocodile remains. Shark and other fish remains, along with a wide range of microfossils, can also be found. The latter can be found by sieving from the Crocodile and Mammal Beds. There is also a black bed of sediments containing a huge variety of fossils seeds.
♦ Between Barton on Sea and Milford on Sea, you will find a car park along the B3058 at Hordle. Park here. A short footpath will take you to Taddiford Gap. Here, you will need to descend the cliff.
♦ Doing this is often not too difficult, although is not suitable for families with children. However, collectors regularly use this route and this generally keeps access fairly easy.
♦ You can collect fossil seeds from the black beds at the base of the cliff, by descending all the way down the cliff or collect from the Mammal, Crocodile and Rodent Beds, which can be found in the middle section of the cliffs, which can be accessed through the slippages.
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FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦ – At Taddiford Gap, the chance of finding fossils is very high. However, they are only found if you can correctly identify the Crocodile, Mammal and Rodent Beds (which are very thick) and if you take samples back home to sieve or sieve onsite.
CHILDREN: ♦ – This location is not suitable for children. It can be dangerous and there is not much of a beach on which to play. In addition, the fossils you can find are microfossils, so are unlikely to be of interest, particularly to younger children.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – It is a short walk from the car park and the only difficulty may be getting down Taddiford Gap. Access at the time of writing is easy, but this can change depending on conditions. You have to access the site by descending down through the gap.
TYPE: – Fossils are found by taking samples from the beds within the cliff. This can be dangerous, so take extra care. Samples can then be taken back home for processing using sieves and running water. The seeds are small, so a 0.5mm sieve should be used.
This guide concentrates on the area from Taddiford Gap to Hordle cliff. We have another guide – Milford-on-sea – that discusses the Milford end of the section. There are several beds here to collect from and some are very thick. When you first come to Taddiford Gap, you may need to use trial and error before finding anything. It is best to sieve onsite, since many beds, including the Crocodile Beds in particular, produces very little residue when sieved. Otherwise, you can end up taking many kilograms of sample home with few fossils.
It is easiest to start with the black lignite beds, which are at beach level and contain fossil seeds and plant remains, or the Crocodile Beds, which are a green/blue sandy clay in the middle of the cliff. These are easily accessible from Taddisford Gap itself. You can also find plants in the Leaf Bed.
You will need to take samples from all of these beds and use a sieve of no greater than 0.5mm. Apart from the famous crocodiles, turtle, mammals, fish and shark remains, also common are bivalves, gastropods and microfossils. There are other beds, such as the Mammal Bed and Rodent Bed, but fossils in these are less common, with the former being the least productive.
There are four important beds that can be identified along the coast near Taddiford Gap, all being part of the Headon Hill Formation. At the very top of the cliff, the Rodent Bed can be found. This can be quite hard to access and is generally not that productive. It is identified by a brown marl just beneath the Pleistocene gravels. The easiest bed to collect from is the famous Crocodile Beds. This is very thick and can be identified by brown sand with white silt at the top, followed by greenish clay and greenish/bluish sandy clay, and hard white sand, which make up most of the cliff. Despite its name, fish, shark, turtles and mammals can also be found in this bed. The Mammal Bed can also yield mammals and other fossils, but they tend to be much less common that those of the Crocodile Beds. It is located below a layer of white and brown sands and has several sub-beds. There are a series of bands of lignite, which consist of a series of black and dark beds found at the base of the cliff. These are rich in fossil seeds and plant remains, along with gastropods and bivalves.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used and prior knowledge of tide times is essential. Taddiford Gap can be a dangerous location. The sea often reaches the base of the cliff, so is of particular concern if venturing east or west of the gap. In addition, getting down Taddiford Gap can be tricky during wet conditions or after fresh cliff falls. The mud and clay can also present a danger if you are walking down or among the slippages.
A trowel is important for taking samples and we recommend sieves of no greater than 0.5mm for sieving onsite. Sample bags are also essential when taking material home for processing.
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.