It has only been in recent years that Bawdsey is once again being washed out by the sea, but this time it is a small cliff North of the famous (now overgrown) ‘Red Crag’ cliffs. London clay on the foreshore is rich in fish, bird and shark.
♦ Follow the B1083 into Bawdsey, turn into ‘East Lane’ and follow this all the way down.
♦ Park in the car park at the end of the road,
♦ Walk back along the road, and take the road leading to the tower on the left hand side (left walking back from the park).This is the one you need to take (as the old coastal footpath is now closed).
♦ Follow this road all the way and you will reach the tower. You can gain access by either climbing down near the granite blocks or by walking along the footpath until you reach the end of the cliff, where the footpath goes down to the shore. London clay is nearly always exposed on the foreshore.
♦ Ref: TM 35542 39618
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦ – Bawdsey is extremely rich in fossils but most of the fossils are only found when sieving the clay surrounding fossil wood. With this technique the clay is highly fossiliferious but without sieving, you will find very little.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦ – This location is suitable for families. Sieving is also something which all the family can enjoy at home, so be sure to take back those samples.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – Although Bawdsey is easy to find, this area can be hard to access depending on the state of the cliffs and beach, you may have to walk a small extra distance to gain beach access.
TYPE: – Fossils are mostly found on the foreshore but can also be found in the cliff face, or the scree. Crag fossils are mostly found in the cliff and the London Clay fossils on the foreshore.
The London Clay here is highly rich in bird and fish remains, but reptiles and shark can also be found. From the Red Crag, molluscs can be collected along with derived fossils. Bawdsey also has some of the most well preserved fossil wood in the London Clay and it is around this where the fish and bird remains are found. If you take samples of the clay in and around these areas, they in most occasions contain fish remains, bird or reptile. Vertebras are also common and can get to quite a size at Bawdsey.
Some of the larger fossils can be found on the shingle, especially nodules which often contain well preserved fossils. It is a hands on your knees job to find them. Many of the smaller fossils including small sharks teeth and loose fish remains become broken up and you will only find half vertebrae, teeth without their roots or the roots separate. You need to obtain these in situ or in samples and treat as soon as possible.
You can also find red crag fossils including fragments of bone on the single and these are much better preserved. (Searching on the foreshore)
You need a low tide, or scouring conditions when the foreshore is stripped down of the sand. Search the clay and look around the areas where their is fosssil wood. Most of the fossils are so fragile that unless you are careful, they will break up. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you take back samples from around the areas with fossil wood and wet sieve at home. most of these areas contain fossils of some sort and often you can find remains from complete fish, bird bones or reptile remains.
If you are interested in crag fossils, search the scree slopes at the base of the cliff, they are full of shells and derived fossils. Occasionally you can find sharks teeth, fish remains and crustaceans from the basement bed.
At the base of the cliff and foreshore, the London Clay (Eocene age), is exposed along the cliff at East Lane. Above this, and the cliffs consist of both pleistocene gravels and Red Crag (Pliocene Age). Pockets of shell beds and the London Clay basement beds yield a variety of mollusc’s, shark teeth, crags, fish remains and lobster fragments.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should be taken and knowledge of tide times should always be noted. The main issue one should be aware of is during scouring and exceptional high tides, you can easily get cut off. Be careful of any cliff falls as these can occur suddenly without little warning.
The vast majority of fossils are hidden around deposits of fossil wood, your best chance of finding fossils is to use a shovel and scoop out fossil wood samples into bags, take this home and wet sieve.
There are no restrictions at this site, but please follow our code of conduct below.
It is important to follow our ‘Code of Conduct’ when collecting fossils or visiting any site. Please also read our ‘Terms and Conditions‘