Category: Devon

The southeast coast of Devon continues the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site to the west, with Jurassic ammonites, brachiopods and fish initially to be found to the east. The cliffs then change to Cretaceous rocks with chalk fossils at Hooken Cliff, Beer Head and Pinhay Bay, and then Triassic fossils further to the west. However, the vast majority of the rocks in Devon are Devonian and contain very few fossils. Corals and crinoids are most likely to be found, but these may be poorly preserved. However, the Devonian rocks are obviously very ancient, so whatever you find is just as important as the popular fossils of Dorset.

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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: ♦♦

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Hooken Cliff

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: ♦♦♦♦♦

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Valley of the Rocks

The Valley of the Rocks is a popular tourist destination, especially for hikers, artists and writers. The dry valley has cut through Devonian Lynton beds, which are highly fossiliferous. The coastal road, west of Lynton, runs through this valley, with plenty of car parking space for visitors. It has been popular ever since a number of famous writers visited the area in the sixteenth century.
Devonian, Outcrops, Scree, Rating: ♦♦♦♦

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Lee Bay

Lee Bay is a coastal location just to the west of the Valley of the Rocks. It features similar, but more fossiliferous rocks than those found at the Valley of the Rocks, but the site is harder to collect from and the cliffs are not easy to access. The sea always reaches the cliffs at the headlands, even at the lowest tide, and the best sections will require some climbing over large rocks. Devonian, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦

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Beer Head

The chalk at Beer Head is very hard, unless you are lucky enough to find boulders on the foreshore from the softer beds at the top of the cliffs. There are a huge variety of echinoid species to be found here and the location is also well known for ammonites, brachiopods and bivalves. Cretaceous, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦

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Along the banks of the River Taw at Fremington, rocks from the Devonian age can be seen packed with brachiopods and bivalves. The site is easy to access and makes a wonderful day out. All you need is a good eye and to stroll along the banks. Devonian, Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦

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The Chalk and Upper Greensand at Seaton is highly fossiliferous and makes for ideal collecting. Ammonites, echinoids, brachiopods and bivalves can all be found. There are plenty of rocks and fresh falls to look through. Cretaceous, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦

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Pinhay Bay

What makes Pinhay Bay so geologically interesting is the range of fossils that can be found from the Jurassic Lias (fish, ammonites, shells and belemnites) and from the Cretaceous Chalk (echinoids, shells and sea urchin spines). Jurassic, Cretaceous, Cliffs and Foreshorem, Rating: ♦♦♦

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Within the Baggy Beds at Baggy Point, layers of sandy deposits yield corals, bryozoans, brachiopods, bivalves and crinoids. However, these deposits can sometimes be hard to find and the fossils are poorly preserved. Devonian, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦

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Hopes Nose

Hopes Nose is a headland two miles east of Torquay, which forms a finger-like rocky tip at the northern end of Torbay. All around this area are fossils, together with remnants of extinct corals which were formed when the Devonian seas were relatively shallow. The best place to see these is on the foreshore at Hope’s Nose when the tide is low. It’s in this area where you’ll also find Devonshire cup corals (Caryophyllia smithii) and brachiopods. Hope’s Nose is an SSSI location, so collecting from, or hammering the bedrock, is not permitted. However, it remains one of the most famous locations for Devonian corals, trilobites and bivalves in the UK. In fact, the Natural History Museum in London has many specimens on display from this site. Devonian, Cliffs and Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦♦

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Daddy Hole

Daddy Hole was once a highly productive quarry, but now forms part of the Torquay coastline. It is rich in Devonian corals and is now an SSSI. Corals can be found in both the quarry and scree slopes on the foreshore. Devonian, Cliffs, Disused Quarry, Rating: ♦♦♦

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Budleigh Salterton

Budleigh Salterton is famous for its pebble beds, which yield large numbers of shells when individual pebbles are split open. This site is an SSSI and also has a local bylaw making removal of the pebbles illegal. You can split the pebbles which are found along the foreshore, to see the shells, but cannot remove them! Ordovician, Foreshore, Rating: ♦♦