The beach at St. Oswald’s Bay lies just to the east of Durdle Door, where an impressive coastal section display a range of rocks from the Jurassic to Cretaceous eras. Fossils to be found include echinoids, ammonites, brachiopods and bivalves, as well as shark teeth. It’s a lovely summer location, albeit busy but certainly more fruitful for fossils during the winter months, after some erosion. Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦
The coastal section at Black Head, near Osmington, displays Jurassic rocks from the Kimmeridge Clay Formation of 152-157 million years ago. Fossils to be found include ammonites, brachiopods, coral, worm tubes and bivalves, as well as marine reptile remains, especially vertebrae and fish bones and teeth.. This site is where the huge skull of the famous Weymouth Bay pliosaur, Pliosaurus kevani was discovered but expect to find a less sensational specimen!
Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦
Remnants of South Wales’s industrial past abound in the area, particularly in the form of colliery spoil heaps (coal tips) like this one. Although landscaped, there are plenty of areas of bare spoil to look through.Carboniferous, Spoil Heap, Rating: ♦♦♦
Situated just outside Trefil, the highest village in Wales, this is a former limestone quarry, which once supplied the Sirhowy Ironworks and contains the remains of a Carboniferous coral reef.Carboniferous, Disused Quarry, Rating: ♦♦♦
Geological collections are an irreplaceable part of our scientific and cultural heritage. The Geological Curators’ Group is dedicated to their better care, maintenance and use. The Group aims to: improve access to, and knowledge of, […]
Just outside of Larne town centre and north of Larne harbour, Co. Antrim is Waterloo Bay, where important exposures of Triassic and Jurassic rocks can be found, specifically the Waterloo Mudstone Formation, part of the Lias Group. Although the Triassic Penarth Group rocks are not particularly fossiliferous, the blue lias yields early Jurassic fossils including ammonites, belemnites and gryphaea. The cliffs and platforms are protected however many washed out loose fossils can be found. Jurassic, Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦
To the east of Malahide town centre is a small beach on which it is easy to find loose carboniferous fossils and limestone pebbles containing beautifully preserved crinoids, bryozoans, bivalves, corals and brachiopods. The pebbles are washed out from exposures along the local coastline, including foreshore platforms found between Malahide and nearby Portmarnock.Carboniferous, Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
North of Portmarnock, on the east coast of Ireland to the east of Dublin, is a short stretch of coastline with abundant exposures of Carboniferous rocks in foreshore platforms, containing beautifully preserved crinoids, bryozoans, bivalves, corals and brachiopods. The cliffs and platforms are protected, but many pebbles are washed out from the exposures along the coastline between Malahide and nearby Portmarnock.Carboniferous, Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦
Southeast of Waterford and southwest of Wexford is the Hook Head peninsula, which is remarkable for the abundant, beautifully preserved Carboniferous fossils, at its furthest reach by the Hook Lighthouse. The outcrops around Hook Head consist of abundant exposures of Lower Carboniferous rocks in foreshore platforms, containing beautifully preserved crinoids, bryozoans, bivalves, corals and brachiopods. The cliffs and platforms are protected, but many loose fragments can be found containing significant numbers of jumbled fossils of all types, with superbly preserved detail.Carboniferous, Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦
Ten kilometres northwest of Ballycastle in Co. Antrim is White Park Bay. Successive layers of rock yield Mesozoic fossils including ammonites, belemnites and Gryphaea. However, the cliffs and platforms are protected, but many loose blocks containing fossils and some washed out fossils can be found. The beach is also known as one of the few places in the world to have “singing sand” – when conditions are right, the extremely fine sand vibrates to make a humming noise. The location is also known as a historic manufacturing hub for flint axes and arrow heads, due to the abundance of flint nodules found in the cliffs, with artefacts dating back as far as 8,000 BC. The landscape also features passage tombs looking out over the sea, where, on a clear day, the coast of Scotland can be seen.Cretaceous, Jurassic, Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦
To the north of the sandy Gosford Bay beach is an outcrop that is incredibly rich in Carboniferous marine fossils. Corals, bryozoans, crinoids and brachiopods are all very common. They are easy to collect and the location is ideal for children, especially for finding the tumbled coral pebbles. The sandy beach is full of pools of water, making a fun family day out, especially in the summer.
Carboniferous, Foreshore Outcrops, Rating: ♦♦♦♦
To the south of Seafield Tower, which is a sixteenth century castle ruin built of local red sandstone, is a highly fossiliferous section of Carboniferous Limestone. The limestone is packed with beautifully preserved crinoids, bryozoans, corals, shells and, if you are lucky, sharks’ teeth. These are exposed on the foreshore platforms.
Carboniferous, Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Following the Bellyford Burn is the disused Pencaitland Railway. This track is now used by cyclists, runners and walkers, and is a lovely walk. The old railway has boards along its way, detailing how coal was mined, and providing information about the old railway. In the middle of the walk are two very large spoil heaps that contain fossil plants from the Carboniferous shale.
Carboniferous, Spoil heaps, Rating: ♦♦♦
Unlike East Wemyss, where the cliffs are cut from a disused spoil heap, at West Wemyss, the cliffs contain in situ Carboniferous beds. There are very few locations in the UK where there are coastal sections of the actual coal measures. You can see very distinctive coal seams, and layers of harder rock and shale. The shale, both in the cliff and on the foreshore, is highly fossiliferous with plant remains.
Carboniferous, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Two separate locations near Worth Matravers provide an opportunity to see where, 140mya, sauropod dinosaurs gathered at the shoreline of a shallow lagoon and to visit their incredible trackways. The nearby quarry provides bivalves, gastropods, fish remains, turtle bones and carapace fragments, mammal teeth and bones, and plant remains from this bygone environment. Cretaceous, Quarry (permission required) and Attraction, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
This location is highly fossiliferous, with chalk packed with ammonites, echinoids, brachiopods, bivalves and crinoids. This is one of the best chalk locations in the UK and is full of surprises. It is highly recommended to all fossil hunters who love the chalk. Cretaceous, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Saltcom Bay is found to the south of Whitehaven, directly after the harbour. It yields a variety of Carboniferous fossils from a mix of shale and limestone. The cliffs have been formed from spoil dumped from the coal mine and steel works that previously existed in the area, which are now being eroded. The site is rich in plant remains, fish scales and corals. Carboniferous, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦
Parton Bay is just north of Whitehaven and yields a variety of Carboniferous fossils from a mix of shale and limestone. There are no cliffs here, but material has been washed from the south and dumped from the former steel works and the coal mine that supplied it, containing plant remains, fish scales and corals. It is a safe and easy location, and is ideal for children. Carboniferous, Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦
The entire section of coast along Compton Bay provides a worthwhile day out, with opportunities to ﬁnd pieces of dinosaur bone (mostly rolled) and possibly teeth; and to see the large number of dinosaur footprints scattered along the coast. This section is famous for the remains and footprints of dinosaurs, for which the Isle of Wight is famous. Both commonly occur on the foreshore. Cretaceous, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
The beach at Cogden, near West Bexington, is next to Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock. It is a popular walk for families and dog walkers, with Hive Beach cafe and toilets a short stroll away. At Cogden Beach, the cliffs are made up of the Jurassic Frome Clay and bivalves and brachiopods are the most common fossils. Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦
Abbey Wood’s highly fossiliferous shell beds are open to the public for digging, with prior permission. The Eocene beds here are extremely rich in fossil sharks’ teeth, fish, mammal and bird remains, and fossil shells. Fossils are best found by onsite sieving, and is often visited by schools and society organised events. Eocene, Disused Pit, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
The small section of Corallian cliff at Pirates cove provides the collector with an abundant and varied fauna of gastropods and bivalves, as well as echinoids. With easy access, provided the tide is favourable, it is an ideal spot for a productive hour or two, not far from other sites. Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦
Langton Herring is both a productive and geologically interesting site. The long, but stunning walk along the South West Coastal path has some wonderful scenery. This location is really for the specialist collector or those who love walking. The site yields a wide variety of brachiopods, echinoids, worm tubes, bryozoans, bivalves (especially oysters) and corals, although, in recent years, it has become over collected. Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦
Tidmoor Point is a small promontory of highly productive Oxford Clay, situated along the shoreline of The Fleet lagoon, opposite Chesil Beach. Renowned for its pyrite and limonitic casts of small ammonites, the cliff here is very low. Apart from ammonites, the site is also rich in belemnites, crinoids, crabs, lobsters, sharks, reptiles, crocodiles, fish and molluscs. Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦
The fields around Ilminster in Somerset are famed for their fossils from the Upper Lias Beacon Limestone Formation (formerly, the so-called ‘Junction Bed’). In particular, ammonites are sought after and, after ploughing, can be found in some numbers at this location, on the surface of the fields. Jurassic, Fields, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Sidmouth is an important Triassic site, where the rare remains of ﬁsh, amphibians and reptiles can be found, with easy access down to the shore. Most specimens have been recovered from fallen blocks, but a few have been found in situ. Bones and footprints of the labyrinthodont, Mastodonsaurus lavisi and a rhynchosaur, Fodonyx spenceri, have also been found on the foreshore. Triassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦
On the edge of the Brecon Beacons, Upper Gilwern Hill is a site long known for its well-preserved and complete trilobites. The hill is made up of rocks from the Lower and Middle Ordovician, and the privately owned quarry is accessible to parties staying at the onsite Shepherd’s Hut self catering accommodation. The trilobite fossils here are plentiful and the chances of ﬁnding a good number is very high. Ordovician, Private Quarry, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
The most common method of how fossils formed is once an animal or plant dies, it falls to the ground, and is covered by sediment. This is often sediments brought from water. Of the vast amount of prehistoric life that died, it is only a tiny amount that has survived the fossilisation process. The conditions when the majority of life died were just not right at that time, to preserve them.
A comprehensive listing of societies and associations, both in the UK, and abroad, related to Palaentology, Geology and Minerals. National Amateur Geological Society (North London) British Geological Survey British Micromount Society Geological Society (The) Geologists’ […]
The Magazine on Fossils, Geology & Minerals. Deposits is both a printed and online magazine featuring articles by high profile authors. Deposits is a full colour glossy 52 page high quality earth science magazine. It is […]
This site is dedicated to the fossils of the lower cretaceous Albian (Gault Clay and Folkestone Beds) in the county of Kent, south-east England. In particular the beautifully preserved faunas of the Gault Clay are […]
A comprehensive guide to the Early Eocene, Ypresian fossils of the London clay of the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, UK. The site covers an identification guide, coastal erosion, geology, and even the minerals. It is […]
Fossils can be found in many places, most fossils are found on the beach or in quarries but many have been found in some very unusual places. Below is a list of places that you could find fossils. Please note some places such as quarries and farm fields need permission before you can enter, other places where fossils form part of the construction such as sea defences and walls, should not even be attempted. Damaging other peoples property is not only illegal, but morally wrong.
The word Fossil used to be defined as ‘something dug up’. Now-a-days it generally means ‘The remains or trace evidence of prehistoric life’. The study of fossils is called palaeontology; someone who collects and studies them is called a palaeontologists. Fossils can be as tiny as a grain of pollen or a seed for e.g. or as huge as a limb bone from a giant dinosaur. For animal or plant remains to have become ‘fossilised ‘, they must go through a certain process that preserves them for up to millions of years after they have died. Usually it is only the hard parts of plants and animals that survive this long process.
Welcome to Discovering Fossils – a collection of online resources and guided fossil hunts that introduce the palaeontology of Great Britain. Written and designed by lifelong fossil enthusiast Roy Shepherd, the website documents the country’s […]
Seaham is a Carboniferous coal measure spoil heap, which was dumped in front of magnesium limestone cliffs at the old Dawdon Colliery. The reserves are so extensive that they have provided years of interesting collecting from spoil, which is gradually being washed by the sea. The colliery closed in 1991, but the tall cliffs of spoil continue to yield well-preserved plants. Carboniferous, Spoil, Cliffs, Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
This Web Site displays more than 2,000 of the characteristic fossils of the Eocene and Oligocene deposits of England. It is hoped that this provides a useful resource for those wishing to identify their own […]
There are two classic pits within Sudbourne Park. Both have become very overgrown in recent years, but sections are cleared from time to time to keep these SSSIs accessible and available for further research. Rich shell beds of Coralline Crag yield a variety of fossils, which can be easily collected from when sections are cleared. Pliocene, Spoil Heap and Disused Pit, Rating: ♦♦♦
When fossil collecting, you will need the correct equipment. Often, each location will differ and of course depending on the weather and time of the year, you will also need to consider the correct clothing.If you are collecting in a quarry, there are important health and safety requirements by law. These are that you must wear a hard-hat, high visibility jacket and steel-toe-cap boots. This guide explains the recommended equipment you should take, both for your own safety and also the tools you might need.
Betteshanger (formerly Fowlmead) Coutry Park is a great site for Carboniferous plants, which are abundant and come from Kent’s former Betteshanger Colliery. Fossils are found in spoil, which is maintained by Geoconservation Kent Rigs. This is a perfect site for all the family, which is easy to access. Carboniferous, Spoil, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
Abereiddy is the best and easiest place in the UK to find graptolites. It is also an outstanding place where you can see and photograph in situ graptolites, crammed into the sloping bedrocks. Although this site is a SSSI (so hammering the bedrock is strictly prohibited), there is no reason why you would want to disturb the bedrock. The foreshore is full of rocks that can be picked up without tools and contain better specimens than those in the bedrock. Ordovician, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
When different types of fossils are talked or written about, they are often given complicated Latin names, such as Dactylioceras commune, Neohibolites minimus and Stigmaria ficoides. These names can sound a bit daunting and you […]
These pages are designed as a general guide for all those interested in the fascinating fossils of the British Chalk. Hopefully this will be a useful resource for academics and students alike, whilst at the […]
Southerndown is a Jurassic coastal location that closely resembles the classic Lias sites of Somerset. The early Blue Lias is mostly thickly bedded limestones, with thin shale bands. The limestones are full of bivalves, with occasional ammonites. They sometimes also yield reptile remains and fish. Jurassic, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦
Houghton Quarry is an abandoned quarry, formerly used to extract chalk for a cement works onsite (which is no longer there). Quarrying stopped about 40 years ago, but, due to its size and terracing, only parts are overgrown, leaving an enormous amount of clean chalk. A large amount of this consists of boulders of various sizes on the quarry floor, yielding many good fossils. Collecting is not allowed here. Cretaceous, Disused Quarry, Rating: ♦♦♦♦
This site is a disused railway cutting near Tilton-on-the-Hill, which is extremely rich in fossils. Now fairly overgrown, there is just one small area of collecting where the cliffs are still accessible. The site is a SSSI, for the diversity of its fossils, its geological important and for the living fauna and flora that can be seen here. It is also a nature reserve. One key feature is the presence of two thick limestone beds – crammed full of brachiopods – which can be easily collected from by looking in the loose scree. Jurassic, Disused Railway Cutting, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
The cliffs at Gedgrave, which run along the east bank of the River Butley, were previously completely overgrown for quite a number of years, despite being recognised as an SSSI for their geological and palaeontological importance. However, as part of Natural England’s conservation of SSSI sites, a small, three metre section has been fully excavated making this site accessible once again. Pliocene, Cliffs, Rating: ♦♦♦
A few scattered rocks can be seen along the banks of the footpath, within this very old and overgrown railway cutting. The rocks are from the Blisworth Limestone Formation and are rich in fossils, such as echinoids and brachiopods. This site is designated as an SSSI, so hammering is not permitted on any of the rocks here. Jurassic, Disused Railway Cutting, Rating: ♦
This is an unusual location, where a public footpath runs right through the middle of a very large, newly re-opened quarry, which was originally a series of smaller, disused quarries. The quarry has no gates or barriers and contains a huge variety of rocks to explore, including a glacial bed, where you can find just about anything. This site also has areas of deep water, so care should be taken at all times. Jurassic, Working Quarry, Rating: ♦♦♦♦
Hooken Cliff is the best location in Devon for finding fossils, in particular, echinoids, ammonites, fish and brachiopods, which are easy to find – you just never know what you may find. They can be found in the White Chalk Subgroup (Seaton Formation) and the Grey Chalk Subgroup and in the Upper Greensand. Cretaceous, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦