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Seatown fossils and fossil collecting

Seatown can be reached by following a narrow shore road just opposite the Castle Inn in Childeock. There is a small car park at Seatown, which is highly recommended. However, this road is not suitable for large vehicles, because it is extremely narrow.
Golden Cap is on your right from the car park at Seatown.
There is a charge for parking at Seatown.

GRID REF: 50.72258°N, 2.84052°W

ammonites, belemnites, reptiles, crinoids, fish, mollusc's, microfossils, minerals
Fossil Collecting at 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.
Where is it

Very High

 

There are a lot of fossils at Seatown. Most of the ammonites that can be found within nodules on the foreshore, but these are actually softer than the surrounding matrix, so you cannot just split them using hammers or wide chisels - you need to use delicate chisels, rock etchers, air preparation tools or knifes to slowly remove the matrix at home.


Suitable for Children

 

Seatown is suitable for families, but if you are planning to take children, care should be used and they should be kept well away from the base of the cliff. These are extremely high, sheer and crumble all the time. Hard hats should be worn at all times.


Easy Access

 

Accessibility to Seatown and the foreshore is excellent. There is a car park practically on the beach, with toilets and a pub next to it. It is also not a very long walk to the fossiliferous beds.


Foreshore, Cliffs, Microfossils

 

The vast majority of the fossils are found on the foreshore at Seatown, many in small nodules that can be found among the pebbles. Fossils can also be found during scouring conditions on the foreshore clays. In addition, there is a hard layer at about eye-level at the lower part of the cliff at Golden Cap, where ammonites can be found and, of course, fossils can also be found in the slippages. This is also an excellent location for microfossils. These can be found by taking samples from the clay surrounding pockets of crinoids and belemnites in the Belemnite Stone Beds during scouring conditions (see below).


No Hammering Cliff

 

This site is part of the Jurassic World Heritage Coastline. Please follow the Fossil Code of Conduct. Access is permitted SSSI -

NO HAMMERING THE CLIFF PRIVATE LAND

This is 'Private Land', Access for digging is strictly forbidden.

Damage has already been caused to this heritage site by people using power tools. This is strictly against SSSI rules and any attempt to ignore these rules may result in prosecution.

 

Common sense when collecting at all locations should be used and prior knowledge of tide times is essential. During winter months, this area of coastline can be dangerous, as the sea always reaches the base of the cliff. Sometimes during storms, the sea does not even retreat, so extra care must be taken. And, once you are past the headland at Seatown, you cannot tell how high the sea is back at the beach at Seatown. Therefore, return as the tide turns. In addition, the cliffs at Seatown are extremely high and you should keep well away from the base of the cliff, as rock falls are very common. Hard hats are recommended at all times.


Seatown
Tide Times

 

 

UK Tidal data is owned by Crown Copyright, and therefore sadly we are not allowed to display tide times without paying expensive annual contracts. However we sell them via our store, including FREE POSTAGE
Click here to buy a tide table


Accommodation

 

Higher Spence

Farm Cottage, beautiful location 3 miles Charmouth. Double and Family rooms En Suite.

Contact: Christine Nutkins
Tel: UK (01297) 560556
Tel: International +441297 560556 Address: Higher Spence, Wootton, Fitzpaine, Charmouth, Dorset.

Email: higherspence@eurolink.ltd.net Website: (Typing "Higher Spence into your search engine)

 

Dorset coastal cottages

We are a holiday agent for 120 carefully selected and inspected cottages within 10 miles of Dorset's spectacular World Heritage Coast and Path. All are old, many are beamy and thatched, most have open fires or logburners plus central heating. Rents include electricity, gas etc. and all linen/towels.

Please call: 0800 9804070 for a Brochure or visit our website on www.dorsetcoastalcottages.com

Jennifer Owens: 01305 851033 jen.o@dorsetcoastalcottages.com

If you would like to advertise on this page, please 'contact us'.
£10/Year or 'FREE' for return links from accommodation website pages.


Last updated:  2008
last visited:  2008
Written by:  Alister and Alison Cruickshanks
Edited by:  Jon Trevelyan



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Most of the fossils at Seatown (Golden Cap) are found on the foreshore in small nodules. Breaking open these nodules with hammers will break the fossils, since they are softer than the surrounding rock matrix. Therefore, it is best to take the nodules back home and, using a knife or a very fine chisel, gently remove the matrix, bit by bit. Microfossils can also be found at this location, but you will need a microscope and sieve to see them. Hard hats are recommended as a safety precaution against falling debris from the high cliffs.

Other Locations similar to Seatown

There are many locations in the UK which can be seen to be similar to Charmouth, apart from those in the nearby proximity such as Chippel Bay, Lyme Regis, Thorncombe Beacon and Charmouth,

in South Wales, you can also try Llantwit Major, and Lavernock. There are plenty of good locations along the Yorkshire Coast too, such as Staithes, Saltwick Bay, Port Mulgrave, Kettleness, Whitby, Ravenscar, Runswick Bay, Sandsend, and many more. In Somerset there are also many locations such as Watchet, Quantoxhead, Kilve, Doniford Bay, St Audries Bay, Lilstock, and Hinkley Point.

 

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This site is part of the Jurassic World Heritage Coastline, a SSSI and private land. Hammering on the cliff and digging is strictly forbidden. Damage has already been caused to the heritage site by people using power tools. This is strictly against SSSI rules and any attempt to ignore them may result in prosecution.

There are many different fossils that can be found at Seatown. The most common are ammonites. These can be found on the foreshore in the shingle, in nodules and within the Belemnite Stone Bed (when exposed). Belemnites are the second most common find, along with crinoids. Reptile remains, brachiopods, bivalves and microfossils can also all be found.

From the car park, as you walk towards Golden Cap, the first part of the cliff is not fossiliferous. However, as you approach Golden Cap, you will notice that a light coloured hard band appears in the cliff. This bed contains ammonites and eventually reaches eye-level. Often, lumps can be found at the base of the cliff and these can be split open for ammonites.

As you get closer to the middle of the cliff at Golden Cap, very fine shingle mixed with pyrites and clay can be found on the foreshore. Among the pebbles, fossils can be found, but this may involve a 'hands and knees’ job. However, if you look carefully and you should make some finds.

When you first reach Golden Cap, at the first slippage, you will notice that there is a lot of clay. The sea normally washes this out daily, so fresh fossils can often be found here. Look in the clay, the clay slippages and the foreshore. Most of the fossils (particularly ammonites) are washed out and can simply be picked up, often requiring no preparation.

Continuing around the first slippage past the peak of Golden Cap (and staying away from the sheer cliff face, as it often crumbles), you should search the foreshore for nodules that have ammonites or for loose ammonites that have been washed out. You need to look at the nodules that contain parts of ammonites showing, as sometimes all you need is a tiny part of an ammonite to be revealed for it to turn out to be a beautiful specimen after preparation. Further along, a wide range of belemnites can also be found.

During the winter months, the Belemnite Stone Bed is exposed, which is full of crinoids, belemnites, ammonites and microfossils.

Other fossils: It may not look much, but all you need to find a nodule containing an ammonite is for just a small part of the ammonite to be showing. Such a nodule will require further work at home. You can find them all over the beach, but only about half of them contain fossils. However, if you try to split them using a geological hammer, splitting hammer or chisel, you will break the fossil, as the fossil is softer than the nodule.

Of course ammonites, belemnites and other fossils can be found on the foreshore requiring no work, but these are likely to be made of pyrite, will be less well preserved, and will decay over time. Ammonites like this are best stored in a dry place in plastic specimen boxes (which are available from UKGE Ltd - see our ‘What to Bring’ page). We also advise adding a sachet of silica gel, which will help to remove the moisture from the air and slow the process of decay.

Some of the best ammonites can be found in the Belemnite Stone Bed. This tends to be exposed during winter months or during scouring conditions, and can be found at the base of the cliff, just before you get to the headland at Golden Cap. The ammonites are found within this layer, but you will need a hammer and chisel to get these out. There is a vast number of ammonite species at Seatown.

Fossil preparation: The best way to prepare fossils from the nodules is by using etchers, fine pointed instruments, air preparation tools or very fine chisels. Work at removing a very small amount of matrix at a time. It takes two to three hours, during which you simply cut around the nodule and eventually the fossil will see the light. Because these ammonites are not pyritic, they are well preserved and will not decay.

Fossil Hunting at Seatown during the winter storms

Geology Guide Jurassic, 185mya

At Golden Cap, the Upper Greensand can be seen for miles around - it even seems to glow in the dark and gives rise to the name 'Golden Cap'. (It is also the highest cliff in southern England.) This and the Gault Clay, which is below the greensand, make up the top 60m of the cliff and is Cretaceous in age.

Below this, 22m of Down Cliff Sand marks the start of the Jurassic formations. Resting on the base of these sands is the 'Starfish Bed', from which fossil starfish can very occasionally be found. These are more common at Thorncombe Beacon, because the beds are much lower and slightly thicker there.

The Eype Clay takes up 45m of the cliff and contains the Eype Nodule Bed. Below this are the Three Tiers and then the Green Ammonite Member makes up the remaining 34m.

During scouring conditions and on the lower parts of the foreshore, the Belemnite Stone Bed can also be seen, which yields a wide range of well-preserved belemnites, ammonites and microfossils. However, this bed is normally obscured by beach sand during summer months...[more]

Geological Succession of Seatown

   

Common pyretic ammonite from Seatown
Common pyretic ammonite from Seatown....[more]

   

Microfossils
Ostracods
Ostracods

The best samples for microfossils are from the Belemnite Stone Bed. During the winter months, the sea exposes the clay at the base of the cliff. This also occurs during scouring conditions at other times of the year. A layer, with pockets of crinoids and belemnites, can be seen in the clay. It is the clay surrounding them that is superb for microfossils. Once you find these areas, take a sample of the clay, together with the ‘pocket’ itself. Start the sieving process at home or in the lab and use a microscope to search for microfossils. These tend to be fragments of bone and crinoids, tiny belemnites, ammonites, sea urchin spines, and small gastropods......[more]

Mineral Guide
Pyrite

Minerals. It is not just fossils that can be found at Seatown. Like Charmouth, ‘Fools Gold (iron pyrites), is very common. Many of the small ammonites you can collect along this coastline are actually made of pyrite, which is why they have their lovely gold colours. Iron pyrites can be found among the shingle or within the Belemnite Stone Bed during scouring conditions. Another common mineral found at Seatown is quartz. These lovely crystals can often be found within nodules or boulders. They look fantastic and children will have lots of fun finding them....[more]
Stone Tumblers
Microscopes
Test Sieves for Microfossils

If you are interested in fossil collecting, then you may also be interested in a stone tumbler (Lapidary). You can polish stones and rocks from the beach which will look fantastic polished using a stone tumbler.

You can polish rough rock and beach glass whilst collecting fossils, on those days where you come back empty handed. These are all high quality machines to give a professional finish to your samples. They can even be used for amber and fossils.

At most locations, you can find microfossils. You only need a small sample of the sand. You then need to wash it in water and sieve using a test sieve. We also sell petri dishes, to help you store your fossils.

We have a wide range of microscopes for sale, you will need a Stereomicroscope for viewing microfossils. The best one we sell is the IMXZ, but a basic microscope will be fine. Once you have found microfossils, you will need to store these microfossils.

Test Sieves are used when searching for microfossils. Microfossils can be found in many locations, and all you need is a small amount of sample such as clays, sands and shales, or if you have acid, limestone, oolite or chalk.

Our UKGE Store sells Endecotts Test Sieves, which are the highest in accuracy and extremely durable and long lasting. These Test Sieves are fantastic for microfossils. Endecotts Test Sieves come in a variety of sizes, frame material and types, they are certificated to EU Standards.

Fossil Hunter Starter Packs with Geological Tools and Safety wear
Rock and Fossil Magazine, Deposits
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Fossils for sale, Ammonites, Belemnites, Dinosaurs, Trilobites, Reptiles, Fish
Field Lens, Loupes and Magnifying Lenses
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(C)opyright 2008 - UKGE Limited, UK Fossils Network and Deposits Magazine, all rights reserved.
While we (UKGE/UK Fossils) try to ensure that the content of this location guide is accurate and up to date, we cannot and do not guarantee this. Nor can we be held liable for any loss or injury caused by or to a person visiting this site. Remember: this is only a location guide and the responsibility remains with the person or persons making the visit for their own personal safety and the safety of their possessions. That is, any visit to this location is of a personal nature and has not been arranged or directly suggested by UK Fossils. In addition, we recommend visitors get their own personal insurance cover. Please also remember to check tide times and rights of way (where relevant), and to behave in a responsible and safe manner at all times (for example, by keeping away from cliff faces and mud).
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