The Spyway 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.
Fossilised footprints at Keates Quarry
More than 100 fossilised tracks are preserved in a flat layer of rock at Keates Quarry (accessed from Spyway car park – see directions below), one of the places where south Purbeck’s tradition of stone production continues.
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 in the time of the dinosaurs
Purbeck, at the end of the Jurassic period when the tracks were laid down, was a sub-tropical wilderness of coastal forests and swamps.
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.
Discovering the dinosaur footprints
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.
Directions to Keates Quarry
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 last part of the route involves walking through a field to get from the Priests Way and cattle may be encountered in this field from time to time.