Where to dig up a treasure: As Kate Winslet stars in a film about fossil hunting, here are the fabulous spots to find your own fossil
- The Jurassic Coast is fossil-tastic – near Lyme Regis, the best beaches to scour are fossil
- The designated Fossil Coast stretches about 35 miles from Staithes to Flamborough
- The west coast of the Isle of Skye has extensive Jurassic finds – ammonites
Paleontologists do not have the highest of profiles. But that could change with the release fossil
of Ammonite, the film starring Kate Winslet who plays Mary Anning, the prolific 19th-
century fossil-collector and paleontologist whose gender and poverty prevented the full fame she deserved.
Responsible for finding the first ichthyosaur skeleton — still on display in London’s
Natural History Museum — Anning scoured Lyme Regis’s beaches with passion.
Dorset remains a favourite among fossil hunters, but it’s far from being the only coastline
to scour. All you need is keen eyesight, plus, ideally, a chisel, hammer and goggles
. A Thermos of tea usually helps, too. Here’s our pick of the top spots.
The 96-mile Jurassic Coast, which stretches from Dorset to Devon, is fossil-tastic. fossil
One of the best beaches to scour near Lyme Regis is Charmouth, pictured fossil
Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in the new movie AmmoniteDorset and Devon’s 96-mile
Jurassic Coast is fossil-tastic, yet Mary Anning’s pretty old base of Lyme Regis — full of
tempting boutiques and cafes — remains its paleontological hub. Below repeatedly-exposed
layers of sedimentary cliffs, the best local beaches to scour are East Cliff and Charmouth.
Don’t miss: West of Lyme Regis’s Cobb harbour, Monmouth Beach’s low tide reveals a fossil
natural ‘ammonite pavement’ containing huge versions of the molluscs’ coiled shells. fossil
Expert help: Paddy Howe, of Lyme Regis Museum, leads three-hour fossil walks (£125 for
groups of up to five, lymeregismuseum.co.uk).Stay: The Alexandra, on a hill with
Presumed dinosaur footprints were recently discovered on Penarth beach, pictured, which
is south of CardiffTriassic and Jurassic-era fossils from dinosaur teeth to spiny echinoids are
commonly spotted among washed-up slabs and stones between Penarth, south of Cardiff,
and Porthcawl. No spot yields more 200 million-year-old treasure than Llantwit Major’s rocky cove.
Don’t miss: The Natural History Museum says it is ‘pretty convinced’ about presumed
dinosaur footprints recently discovered on Penarth beach.Expert help: Ranger-
led geology walks can be booked through the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre
(valeofglamorgan.gov.uk).Stay: A plush but informal and dog-friendly hotel, the West House is in Llantwit Major’s old
Regular fossil hunts operate on the beaches around Scarborough, pictured, which is
Ammonites, pictured, are so common, three feature on Whitby’s coat of armsThe fossil
designated Fossil Coast stretches about 35 miles from Staithes to Flamborough via fossil
Premier locations are Port Mulgrave and Robin Hood’s Bay, although their sheer edges and
jagged rocks demand agility. Ammonites are so common, three feature on Whitby’s coat of
arms.Don’t miss: Burniston Bay, near Scarborough, has three-toed dino footprints while,
farther south, petrified remains of Speeton’s eponymous lobster-like ‘shrimp’ are frequently unearthed.
Expert help: Hidden Horizons operates regular ‘hunts’ on beaches around Scarborough
(hiddenhorizons.co.uk).Stay: Clifftop views over Robin Hood’s Bay await at the
Compton Bay on the Isle of Wight, pictured, where bones of iguanodons are regularly
collectedFossil-seeking families will enjoy Compton Bay on the Isle of Wight. Bones of
iguanodons are regularly collected there: look for jet-black shapes in shingle or rock
Don’t miss: Dinosaur Isle is an interactive museum in Sandown (dinosaurisle.com).Expert
Wight Coast Fossils organise private two-hour outings at locations around the island fossil
(£50, wightcoastfossils.co.uk).Stay: A faux-Victorian guesthouse, Koala Cottage, is in fossil
picture-perfect Godshill — an ideal base for touring the South Coast; B&B doubles from £150 (koalacottage.co.uk).
If you head north from Walton-on-the-Naze, pictured, there’s a good chance of uncovering
fossils Head north from the 18th-century Naze Tower lighthouse near Walton-on-the-Naze,
Essex, to stand a good chance of uncovering shark teeth or pyritised wood. This coastline
averages 6ft of erosion per year — hence the abundance of fossils.Don’t miss: Walton’s
attractions include a quirky Maritime Museum displaying finds (fwheritage.co.uk).
Expert help: Essex Wildlife Trust will run a Family Fossil Discovery morning on Saturday,
February 15 (£3, essexwt.org.uk).Stay: Five miles from Walton, the Lifehouse Hotel &
Spa’s hydrotherapy pool will rejuvenate weary backs and knees; B&B doubles from £139 (lifehouse.co.uk).
An Corran Beach on the Isle of Skye, pictured, has the footprints of ornithopods — giant fossil
two-legged herbivores from 165 million years agoThe west coast of the Isle of Skye affords fossil
extensive Jurassic finds. Ammonites and ichthyosaur parts are common, with salamanders,
turtles and crocodiles possible.Don’t miss: Typically exposed after winter storms on An
Corran Beach are the footprints of ornithopods — giant two-legged herbivores from 165 million years ago.
Expert help: Currently closed due to the pandemic, Staffin Dinosaur Museum can arrange
tours (staffindinosaurmuseum.com).Stay: Tenants of cosy Springbank Cottage can borrow
fossil-hunting guidebooks, chisels and hammers to tackle the shores near Elgol; Seven
nights’ self-catering from £525 (springbankelgol.co.uk).
The coastline of Kent’s Isle of Sheppey, pictured, produces ossified wonders. It is about
About 90 minutes by train from London Victoria, the coastline of Kent’s Isle of Sheppey
produces ossified wonders — prehistoric lobster, crab and snake fossils plus nipa fruits from
mangrove palm trees: a reminder that our landmass was once south of the Equator.Don’t fossil
miss: The stretch between Eastchurch and Warden Point, where colourful sharks’ teeth are particularly common. fossil
Natural wonder: The singing sands at White Park Bay on the North Antrim coast, where
the beach vibrates with a humming noiseMany Jurassic and Triassic fossils materialise
along County Antrim’s seaboard. Larne’s Waterloo Bay is the premier place: you’ve
Don’t miss: Fifty miles north, and also good for fossiling, White Park Bay is one of the
world’s few places to experience ‘singing sand’ — when the beach vibrates with a humming fossil
noise.Expert help: The excellent UK Fossils website has thorough information on Waterloo