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What fossils to find

 

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.

 


(Exposed Belemnite Stone Bed) - 2008


A nodule with a part of ammonite showing


The ammonite after preparation


Common pyretic ammonite from Seatown


Ostracods - 2008


Fossils within the Clay on the foreshore


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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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