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Fossil Hunting in Dorset

Dorset is home to the World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coastline, and is by far the most popular area in the UK to collect fossils. Lyme Regis, is the fossil capital, with plenty of fossil shops, museums, guided tours and even the lampposts are sculptured into ammonites! Ammonites are, the most common find in Dorset. However, some of the popular sites of Charmouth, Lyme Regis and Seatown can have so much competition, that you may end up coming home with very little, especially during the busy summer months when the beaches are full of fossil hunters. Dorset does however have so many locations to choose from, including sites with Cretaceous chalk, and several locations on the Isle of Portland, that it is an area, you just cannot miss.

Charmouth Fossils and Fossil Hunting

The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site is one of the most famous and most popular Jurassic locations in the world, yielding plenty of fossils for the thousands that come collecting every year. And Charmouth is at the heart of it all. This geological guide features both the cliffs of Black Ven and Stonebarrow, and information on the local area of Charmouth.


Fossils from Lyme Regis and Dorset Fossil Hunting

Lyme Regis is the most commercial fossil town in the UK, with fossil shops, museums, fossil tours and much, much more - there is no other town like it. The famous beach of Lyme Regis yields large numbers of fossils and people flock here by their thousands to try their luck. The town has a number of fossil shops and includes a museum. There are regular trips, showing you where to find fossils and providing general information. The town has had a lot of money spend on making it one of the most beautiful towns in Dorset. Even the lamp posts in Lyme Regis are shaped like ammonites.


Seatown Fossil Hunting and Fossils from Seatown.

During scouring tides, Seatown turns into an 'ammonite kingdom'. They can simply be picked up along the foreshore and, therefore, the location is ideal for children. There is also a superb pub with views of Golden Cap. Fossils can be found all year round, as can microfossils and minerals.


Thorncombe Beacon Fossils

Thorncombe Beacon yields everything from several different species of ammonites, shells (including brachiopods and bivalves), some superb starfish specimens, crinoids, belemnites and much, much more. However you often have to work hard to find them.


Burton Bradstock Fossils

Locals wait months for 'Burton to fall', and when she does, her rich ammonite beds yield superb finds, with bags to bring home. Cliff falls occur every two to three years, and fossils can then be collected from the rocks on the foreshore or from any of the scree slopes. As well as ammonites, many other fossils can be found, including echinoids, shark fins, bivalves and brachiopods.


Collecting Fossils from Kimmeridge

If you are intending to use Kimmeridge Bay as the start of a trip to get to other nearby sites, this can be one of the most dangerous locations for fossil hunting. The tides have cut many people off in the past. Kimmeridge Bay and the adjacent cliffs and foreshore are rich in ammonites, reptiles and shells, but the best collecting sites to the east are a long walk if you are planning to look for fossils along the coastline from Kimmeridge Bay to Chapman’s Pool.


Chapmans Pool Fossils

Chapman’s Pool is rich in Upper Jurassic ammonites, reptiles and shells. It is a very long walk down to the beach, but the fossils are often rewarding. It is best to visit during summer months when the sea is not so rough.


Fossils from Chippel Bay

There are similar zones at Chippel Bay to the Lias of Church Cliffs. Ammonites and reptile remains can be found on the foreshore, but you need a good scour to find any decent fossils.


Fossil Hunting at Durlston Bay

If you are interested in microfossils, tiny mammal remains, turtle shell and crocodile skin fragments, and fish remains, Durlston Bay is ideal. It is also a good location to take samples for wet sieving. Don't forget your field lens when visiting.


Eype Fossil Collecting

Continuing from Seatown, what used to be known as the Dorset Junction Bed (now known as the Beacon Limestone) at Eype yields plenty of ammonites, but will require some hard work with a large geological hammer. Many of the fossils are also poorly preserved, but decent specimens do turn up, if you look hard enough.


Ringstead Fossils

Ringstead Bay only has a small amount of Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay from the Upper Jurassic, but it is rich in fossils. This location is also just a short walk away from other good sites and makes for an ideal day trip.


White Nothe Fossil Collecting

Where else do you get to collect fossils from what used to be known as the Upper, Middle and Lower Chalk, and the Greensand within just a few metres? This location is superb for its geology, but also for its cretaceous ammonites and other fossils.


Bowleaze Cove

The Oxford Clay at Bowleaze Cove yields ammonites and is rich in reptile remains. Giant fossil oyster shells are also plentiful. This location is best visited after scouring tides, although during these times, you will need wellington boots.


Fossils at Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove is a popular tourist location and its famous 'Fossil Forest' can be visited at low tide. It is ideal for children and makes for a great whole day out. However, fossils are less common than at other Dorset locations nearby.


Fossils from Osmington Mills

This is another Jurassic location where ammonites can be found. The ammonites from Osmington Mills can be quite worn and hard work is required to get them out of the rocks. However, sometimes if you are lucky, you can find one lying on the foreshore.


Wyke Regis Fossils

Wyke Regis offers two locations which are rich in fossils from the Kimmeridge clay of the Upper Jurassic. To the west, you can collect along the East Fleet, which is behind Chisel Beach. To the east, you can collect along the banks of Portland Harbour. Giant oysters similar to those found at Bowleaze Cove can be found. Plentiful shells and reptile remains can also be collected.


West Weare, Portland Fossils

West Weare is the best location in Portland for fossil hunting. Whilst most of the island is Portland Stone, this location is Kimmeridge Clay. Most of the Kimmeridge Clay on Portland is covered up, but here, the clay can be found slipped between the quarry debris.


Watton Cliff Fossils

Watton Cliff, part of West Cliff at West Bay and is an excellent location for collecting microfossils. While the site is also very rich in other fossils (such as brachiopods, crinoids, fish, sharks’ teeth, crocodiles, amphibians and plants), this guide concentrates more on the microfossils, including small mammals, fish, reptiles and ostracods, which are well preserved and abundant.


Poxwell Quarries Fossil Guide

Poxwell Quarries are a couple of old, very overgrown quarries, but a small outcrop in the second quarry still reveals the productive Purbeck beds that contain well-documented insect remains. You can also find fishes, ostracods and small shells. However, you will need a microscope for viewing your finds.


Wyke Regis

The famous plant beds from the Poole Formation used to be found at Bournemouth, but, after the sea defence was constructed, this bed gradually became obscured and today it can hardly be seen. However, the Poole Formation can be found at Studland Bay, which also yields some plant remains.


Swanage Fossils

This Cretaceous site represents an alternative to the many Jurassic sites of Dorset. It yields fossils from the chalk, including echinoids, bivalves, brachiopods and ammonites. However, fossils here are, less common than other chalk locations in Dorset.


Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head is at the most easterly end of Dorset and is a popular area for hikers. The cliffs are tall, but surrounded by water, with Christchurch Harbour just 400m round the corner to the east. These are Barton Age and are rich in fossil seeds. Therefore, this is an ideal location for the microfossil collector.


Dancing Ledge Fossils

Dancing Ledge used to be a coastal quarry. The views from here are stunning, even if the fossils are poorly preserved and uncommon. You can stand on Dancing Ledge watching the waves crashing into the cliff. This is a location worth a visit just for the views.


West Bay Fossils

West Bay continues from Burton Bradstock, but is much less productive because the Inferior Oolite beds are much thinner and cliff falls are uncommon. Fossil shells and poorly preserved ammonites can be found in the Bridport Sands.


Fossils from Weymouth

The Oxford Clay and Corallian Beds at Weymouth (Furzy Cliff and Redcliff Point) yield ammonites and the clay is particularly rich in reptile remains. Giant fossil oyster shells are also plentiful. These locations are best after scouring tides and/or rain, but, at these times, you will need wellington boots.


Fossils from Perryfield Quarry, Portland

This working quarry (Perryfield Quarry) on Portland has a giant ammonite (Titanites) at its gates. Ammonites like this can be found here, but most quarries sell these and so do not allow collectors to remove these finds. However, trace fossils and molluscs can be seen in the Basal Shell Bed.


Fossil hunting at Freshwater Bay, Portland

Freshwater Bay is the best place on the Isle of Portland to access the Portland Stone. Here, molluscs and ammonites can be found (although the latter are not common), along with trace fossils. You can collect from the cliff-top quarry or from the foreshore.


Fossils from Church Ope Cove, Portland

The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site is one of the most famous and most popular Jurassic locations in the world, yielding plenty of fossils for the thousands that come collecting every year. And Charmouth is at the heart of it all. This geological guide features both the cliffs of Black Ven and Stonebarrow, and information on the local area of Charmouth.


Portland Fossils

Portland Bill is the island’s main attraction and has rocks scattered around that contain fossils. They are not very well preserved and only oysters and bivalves can be found, along with trace fossils. However, it is a nice location for a short visit.


Fossils from Horn Park Quarry

Horn Park Quarry was one of the best locations for Inferior Oolite fossils. Today, you can view the once, productive beds as a small outcrop, but collecting is not permitted. Large ammonites were once very common and in excellent condition.


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

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Neogene
Palaeogene

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Fossils collected direct from cliff face
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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.

NEW
Fossils from the Lower Lias of the Dorset Coast

The coastline of Dorset exposes a long squence of Jurassic age sedimentary rocks which, with its wealth of invertebrate, vertebrate and plant fossils. From the pioneering work of early collectors like Mary Anning onwards, the area has been a cradle of palaeontology. The Lower Lias is particularly fossiliferous and this lavishly illustrated Guide covers all the fossil groups to be found by the collector in the field.

BK0016: £18.00
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