The River Tyne is a long and beautiful river. Its tributaries wind their way down from the glacially eroded Lammermoor and Pentland Hills. The river gains volume as it crosses the alluvial plain, cutting through the carboniferous country rock, transporting minerals and fossils along the way.
♦ From the A1, turn off for Haddington and then go straight through the town, south towards the B6369.
♦ Turn off right at the end of Sidegate and head for the Aubigny Sports Centre. Parking here is the best option, although there is good free parking about 15m from the weir.
♦ Ref: NT 51477 73526
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – It can take a short time to get your eye in, but there are lots of fossils to be found. A shower of rain can help the fossiliferous rocks stand out from the cherts, quartz and volcanic pebbles.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦♦ – This is a great place for children, as long as the river is not in spate. There are lots of things to keep them busy at the weir, including fishing for minnows and looking for river-polished stones and agates. In addition, ducks, swans and kingfishers are all frequently seen.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦♦ – There is good free parking approximately 15m from the weir or, if this is full, there is parking at the sports centre. From there, it is an easy short walk on a public path leading to the river.
TYPE: – Except for a small exposure of bedrock packed with Carboniferous bivalves, the best places for fossils are in the build ups of loose stones and roundish pebbles on the bends in the river and below the weir itself.
The best place to look for fossil is on the small island directly below the West Mill Weir. Regular spates often churn up the pebbles bringing new material. The shallow water around the island can sometimes make eroded silicate fossil-bearing rocks easier to see. Crinoids and various productids and spiriferid brachiopods show up regularly. The coral, Lithostrotion, is common and a few small trilobites (Paladin mucronatus) have been found, but they are rare. Gastropods can also be found.Downstream from the weir and about 45m beyond the white bridge, the river cuts through a bedrock ledge containing a high density of bivalves. Specimens of Stigmaria have also been discovered upstream from the weir.
The River Tyne cuts through Carboniferous sedimentary rock at various places much further upstream, although there are few exposures. However, a lot of fossil material finds its way downstream and can be found at many places where the river bends contain raised pebble banks.
The rocks are mostly of Blackhall Limestone of the Lower Limestone Formation, from the Brigantian substage of the Dinantian (Lower Carboniferous).
Haddington can be very boggy, especially during the winter and after heavy rain. In addition, some areas have steep sides. We also recommend the use of hard hats and safety goggles.
An ordinary sized geology hammer and safety glasses should suffice. Wellies will allow you to cross the river.
Scotland’s fossil resource is at risk of abuse and damage, and so we must all safeguard and managed fossil collecting to ensure its survival for future generations. For this reason it is VITAL you read and adhere to the Scottish Fossil Code for ALL sites in Scotland.