Fossil Collecting Charmouth
Fossil Collecting - Charmouth
Charmouth, World Heritage Site is one of the most famous and most popular Jurassic Locations in the world, yielding plenty of fossils for the thousands that come collecting every year. This geological guide features both the cliffs of Black Ven and Stonebarrow and information on the local area of Charmouth. Charmouth, world famous for its highly fossilferious cliffs but also widely known for the most commercial fossil location in the UK.
Fossils you are likely to find at Charmouth Beach
By far the most common fossil at Charmouth is the Ammonite. Many of these small ammonites can be simply collected from along the foreshore. The larger gold ammonites can be found along Stonebarrow during scouring tides exposed in the clay particularly at the far end of Stone Barrow, or you may be lucky enough to pick up one from the foreshore. Crinoids can also be found at Stone barrow by searching the tide line.
Black Ven itself is famous for Ichthyosaurus bones which are washed out of the slippage's of clay. At Stone Barrow, Ichthyosaurus Bones can also be found, often exposed on the foreshore during scouring tides. The top beds of Black Ven, are exciting and contain many good fossils, including fish and large nodules which occasionally contain Ammonites. These beds are so high that cliff falls are required, during extreme high tides, these top beds often fall or slip down. Many other reptiles have been found and Charmouth has been the place of many new discoveries for new species.
Where to look for fossils at Charmouth
There is a large range of fossils that may be found between Black ven and Stonebarrow. The most common place to find fossils and indeed the most easiest is from along the beach. Search in the shingle and on the tide line, especially as the tide retreats. The key is to focus on a particular area, such as walking along the tide line where you are most likely to find them. You may have to get on our hands and knees to find the tiny Ammonites. Look out for patches of dark gold coloured grains or small lumps. These are Iron Pyrites or (Fools Gold). fossils are most common in these areas amongst this pyrites, so ensure you look hard at any areas covered in these pyrites.
You can also search in the clay on the foreshore at Black Ven, this is also a good area to find them. The sea acts as a giant sieve and does all the hard work for you. Please do not climb the slippages as these are both very dangerous but also pointless, you have a much higher chance of finding fossils on the foreshore.
Keep an eye open for the 'Flatstones' these can contain some superb fossils but you will need a hammer. There is also a special way of splitting these nodules, from on the side rather than on the flat top/bottom, hitting these nodules incorrectly will most likely split the fossil inside in half or shatter the find and will make it almost impossible to preserve. Please DO NOT attempt to dig these out of the cliff, they are so big that attempting this would put yourself at danger.
There is such a vast variety of fossils at Charmouth, that one can expect to find anything, however take one word of advice. Competition is very high, you will find very little during the Summer Season. The every month offers something new, especially after a stormy gale or with the event of an extreme high tide. There are also a wide range of rocks lying on the beach, some of these contain fossils and others contain the fossil casts. Usually these can simply be picked up from along the beach.
Fossil hunting suitable for children at Charmouth
Charmouth is One of the best locations for children, they can sit on the beach, or walk along the foreshore and pick up ammonites
Easy Access to Charmouth beach for fossil hunting
Charmouth beach is easy to access, simply head into Charmouth then down lower sea lane, where a car park will take you right onto the beach. Toilets, and an information centre and cafe/food are all directly available. Information courtesy of U K G E