Must visit places for fossil hunters
Fossils can be found anywhere. They could be buried deep in the ground beneath where you’re standing at this very moment. Some lucky people even find them in their own back gardens.
That said, there are a few spots that are famed for their fossils. If you’re interested in fossils or your kids are working their way through the 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ you can’t do better than starting at these places:
Fossil hunting in the South West
‘Many millions of years ago Charmouth beach was a tropical sea and salt marsh. As animals died they fell to the bottom of the sea and were fossilised. Since then the land has moved and the rock that makes up the cliffs was once the rock of the sea floor.
‘These cliffs are easily eroded by the sea, which washes away the soft rock to reveal hidden fossils of the creatures that once roamed these shores. You can literally pick the fossils up as you walk on the shore.’
- Rob Rhodes, countryside manager
Fossil hunting in London and the South East
* Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters, in East Sussex, is our best spot for finding fossils.
* ‘The chalk cliffs of the South Downs, in West Sussex, are continually eroding, meaning a lot of Cretaceous fossils are found here. Everyone will find something here to intrigue them.’
- Natasha Sharma, learning officer
Fossil hunting in the North East
On the Yorkshire coast rocks from the Jurassic period are exposed for all to see, in a series of spectacular cliffs and bays. Staithes, Port Mulgrave, Runswick, Robin Hood’s Bay, Boggle Hole and Saltburn are all good fossiling spots.
Fossil hunting in Wales
Abereiddi, in Pembrokeshire, is famous for its graptolite fossils. These are the remains of small sea creatures from 470 million years ago. They look like tiny hacksaw blades or tuning forks - look for them in the rocks and among the beach pebbles.
Fossil hunting in the North West
* The limestone features around Arnside and Silverdale, in Cumbria, all have great geology for fossils. You can see brachiopods, which are the remains of marine animals, at Arnside Knott in particular.
Fossil hunting in the East of England
On the strand at Blakeney Point, Norfolk, fossils and bones are often washed up and occasionally ammonites too. Important areas for nesting birds will be fenced off and please remember to keep an eye on tide times.
Indoor places to hunt for fossils
* Florence Court, in County Fermanagh, offers activities based around the Earl’s fossil collection in the Rock Hound room.
* You can see fossils by appointment at Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire. Please call a few weeks in advance of your visit if you’d like to do this.
* Within the cabinet of curiosities at A La Ronde, in Devon, you will find fossils along with an eclectic mix of shells and other items.
* There is a fossilised elk head at Powis Castle, Powys. Look carefully at the exit stairs too.
Get all the top tips in our beginner’s guide to fossil hunting.