The cliffs at Blue Anchor contain a thin Triassic bone bed overlying Jurassic deposits from the Rhaetian Penarth series. This is full of reptile and fish remains, similar to Aust on the River Severn. There are plenty of blocks to split.
♦ Blue Anchor can be accessed from the B3191, which runs between Watchet and Minehead. Park on the promenade and walk east towards Watchet.
♦ On a good day and tides permitting, you can walk from Watchet to Blue Anchor and back. However, the tide can reach very high up the beach at some points and you can be completely cut off. So be careful and make sure you allow plenty of time to get back if you choose this route.
♦ A ramp gains access to the foreshore from the promenade, but is only accessible around three hours after high tide. And this can quickly become cut off soon after low tide. If you do get cut off, you can climb the concrete defence walkway next to the cliff, which will take you back to the promenade, although this is a steep climb and we do not recommend it.
♦ Ref: 51.18330°N, 3.38522°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – Blue Anchor is very productive but you have to work for your finds. You will need a good hammer and chisel, as the bone bed is very hard. Search the foreshore for rocks from the bone bed and split these finely. It is also recommended to take samples home and use very small chisels to break them into small pieces. You will be surprised how rich this bed is for teeth.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – As the rocks are very hard, fossils within the bone bed will require heavy hammers to extract. Therefore, this location is not suitable for young children.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦ – Access to the beach at Blue Anchor is easy. Park along the seafront and walk down to the beach by means of the concrete slipway.
TYPE: – Blue Anchor is a cliff and foreshore location, although fossils are only really found within the rocks from the bone bed, which can be found scattered along the beach. At the Blue Anchor headland, where you will see some very large rocks, all the beds going eastwards are Jurassic and are covered in our Watchet guide.
Small bones are very common at Blue Anchor, including many fish remains, teeth, spines, small bone fragments and vertebrae. In fact, the fossiliferous Westbury Beds are packed with fish remains. There is also a huge variety of small bones found here, but getting them out and getting them home is a completely different story. It may be easier to look for smaller blocks around the foreshore instead of trying to get bones out of the hard larger blocks, unless you have the right equipment.
The red Triassic cliffs do not contain any fossils, so you will need to walk towards the start of the grey cliffs. At Blue Anchor Point, blocks of bone bed can be seen on the foreshore. Some of these can be huge. Search around these blocks and look for any interesting bones. Once you find a good block, it can take a long time to split it into small pieces. Alternatively, you can take some samples back home for further splitting. Sometimes, nodules can be found that contain larger bones. These tend to be found in sandy pockets together with giant limestone nodules.
At Blue Anchor Bay, the Blue Anchor Fault splits the Jurassic against the Triassic Marls of the Mercia Mudstone Group.
Blue Anchor Bay contains both Upper and Middle Rhaetian aged rocks from the Triassic and Jurassic Lias. The succession at Blue Anchor is split into the following sections (running from top to bottom as follows):
- Blue Lias Formation; the highest of the beds at Blue Anchor and consist of White Lias, laminated shales and limestones. The bed is about 2.75m thick occurring at the base of grey limestone, and sharply overlying irregular surface of pale grey or bluish and greenish-grey or reddish brown mudstone of the Cotham Member and pale porcellanous limestone of the Langport Member
- Westbury Formation. At the very top of this formation is the Basal Bone bed. Below is a layer, 6.4m-thick of black fossiliferous shales with thin, often nodular limestone. Occasional sandstones can be found in the lowest 1.2m. Larger bones can also be found in this layer, but are less common. The middle sections consist of a Ceratodus Bone Bed followed by massive grit containing fish remains resting on thin, ripple-marked sandstone. This is the layer that is of most importance as far as collecting is concerned.
The final part of the Westbury Formation consists of a 7m bed beginning with thick limestones containing fossils of Rhaetavicula contorta, Chlamys valoniensis, Tutcheria cloacina and Eotrapezium concentricum. The beds change from limestones into shale for the final 1.65m.
- Blue Anchor Formation. These are greyish-green and yellow marls makes up the bulk of the cliff exposures.
The above sequence at the eastern end of Blue Anchor is suddenly replaced by Triassic marls which are not fossiliferous. This is the result of the Blue Anchor Fault. One of the most noticeable aspects of the geology at Blue Anchor is the alternating grey and green mudstones, containing nodular white and pink gypsum (alabaster) within the Blue Anchor Formation.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used and tide times should always checked before visiting. You can easily be cut off by the tide at Blue Anchor, as the sea reaches the cliff, especially round the first headland. You can walk to Watchet from here, but you should ensure you have left enough time for your return or to reach your destination. Care must be taken when splitting, hitting and breaking these rocks, as rock splinters can penetrate the body, especially the eyes. Therefore, you should always wear safety goggles. When using chisels, care must be taken to prevent breaking fingers or damaging hands.
Many fossils can simply be collected from the fragments of bone bed along the foreshore, especially along the tide line. However, any large boulders from the bone bed will require strong tools to break them. The bed is so hard that splitting it is almost impossible unless a natural fault line or crack can be found. You will need a heavy hammer, chisels and safety goggles.
This site is an 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 please download the PDF from Natural England – SSSI Information