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Fossil Hunting in Devon

The South East of Devon continues with the Jurassic Coast, with ammonites, brachiopods and fish to be found. This then moves into Cretaceous with chalk fossils found at Hooken Cliff, Beer Head and Pinhay Bay, and Triassic fossils further along the South East Coast. However, the vast majority of the rocks in Devon are Devonian age, and contain very few fossils. Corals and Crinoids are more likely to be found, but they will be poorly preserved. The Devonian rocks in Devon are very old, so whatever fossils you do find are just as important as the popular fossils of Dorset.

Hooken 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 Middle and Lower Chalk, and in the Upper Greensand.

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.

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.

Hopes Nose is one of the most famous locations for Devonian corals, trilobites and bivalves in the UK. In fact, the Natural History Museum in London has a large number of specimens on display from this site.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

Set in beautiful scenery, Lynmouth is famous for its cable train taking you the Lymouth hill to give spectacular views. The high cliffs yield Bryozoans, Brachiopods, Bivalves and Pteraspids, although many are poorly preserved.

Fossils are common
Fossils often found
Fossils are not common
Fossils rarely found
Site protected, no collecting permitted, or no access to beach


Cambrian / Pre Cambrian

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Fossils collected direct from cliff face
Fossils collected from the foreshore
Fossils collected from the cliff and foreshore
Location is a quarry or pit
Fossils collected from a stream or river bed,
Fossils collected from a farm field
Fossils collected from road or railway cutting.
Fossils collected from hill or mountain scree slope.
Fossils collected from rock outcrops.
Fossils collected from lake or reservoir banks.
Samples taken back for processing microfossils.


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