The Keates Quarry dinosaur footprints

An information panel at the Keates Quarry dinosaur footprints

More than 140 million years ago, dinosaurs gathered by the shores of a shallow lagoon in what is now Dorset. Incredibly, the tracks they left behind are still there today.

More than 100 fossilised tracks are preserved in a flat layer of rock at Keates Quarry, one of the places where south Purbeck’s tradition of stone production continues.

From Spyway, follow the footpath south towards the sea and turn right onto the Priest’s Way, heading west. Continue on the Priest’s Way for about three quarters of a mile – the dinosaur footprints are signposted on the right, just past the turning for Acton.

The footprints at Keates Quarry were probably made by brachiosaurs, a type of dinosaur from the group known as the sauropods, which included the largest land animals that ever lived.

Long necked plant eating dinosaurs like this could reach 50 tonnes, or five times the weight of a modern elephant, and measure more than 25 metres from nose to tail.

Purbeck at the end of the Jurassic period when the tracks were laid down was a sub-tropical wilderness of coastal forests and swamps.

Get up close to a legacy of the prehstoric past
Examining one of the prints

The large number of tracks in one place suggests Keates Quarry may have been the site of a watering hole where dinosaurs gathered to drink.

Over time, the footprints they left in the soft mud were covered over by layers of rock and preserved as fossils.

They were discovered in 1997 by quarrymen Kevin Keates and Trevor Haysom when the site was still being worked.

In 2016, after production had moved to a different part of the quarry, they were opened to the public with an information board telling the story of the footprints and the dinosaurs that made them.