Fossil Collecting Lyme Regis
Fossil Collecting in Lyme Regis
Dorset is home to the World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coastline, and is by far the most popular area in the UK to collect fossils. Lyme Regis, is the fossil capital, with plenty of fossil shops, museums, guided tours and even the lampposts are sculptured into ammonites! Ammonites are, the most common find in Dorset. However, some of the popular sites of Charmouth, Lyme Regis and Seatown can have so much competition, that you may end up coming home with very little, especially during the busy summer months when the beaches are full of fossil hunters. Dorset does however have so many locations to choose from, including sites with Cretaceous chalk, and several locations on the Isle of Portland, that it is an area, you just cannot miss.
The town of Lyme has a number of fossil shops and includes a museum. There are regular trips, showing you where to find fossils and general information. The town has had a lot of money spend on making it one of the most beautiful town in Dorset. Even the lamp posts in Lyme Regis are shaped as ammonites! There are several car parks in the town of Lyme Regis and access to Church cliffs is best done from the harbour. There is also a fantastic viewpoint where on a good day, you can see the cliffs of Bridport, Burton Bradstock and Chisel Beach.
What fossils you are likely to find at Lyme Regis
The entire beach at Church Cliffs is littered with wonderful large Ammonites , moulds and impressions. These are both too heavy for collectors to bring back and too worn to make such an effort. For that reason, they have been left on the beach for everyone to see. Please do not destroy these, they are a fine example of Lyme Regis's fantastic Dorsets Jurassic Coasts. Cliff Falls yields complete Ammonites which can be seen all around Lyme Regis and Charmouth in Shops, Museums, Gardens, Walls and as part of housing design.
There are also a number of shells, some of these are quite large and within the hard limestone. These are very difficult to collect and it is best to leave these for everyone else to see. A range of Ammonites and shells can be found within hard layers, but most interesting is the fish bed which continues to Chippel Bay. Complete fish can be found, especially the smaller fish in shale. Flatstones at Lyme Regis can contain well preserved ammonites and insects which are unfortunately rare and only a small percentage contain fossils, in the past several complete fish have also been found in these nodules in perfect condition.
Where to look for fossils at Lyme Regis
The best place to collect fossils is within the soft clay between the hard limestone ledges. Not all the shale beds will contain fossils, but some contain fish fragments and occasionally complete small fish. Some of the best beds are exposed below beach level when scouring takes place. This also makes collecting less dangerous than searching in the shale within the cliff face. Please DO NOT attempt to dig in the cliff, this is extremely dangerous and cliff falls at Church Cliffs frequently occur. Keep well away from the base of the cliff.
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 best months are the winter and spring with stormy gales and extreme high tides. 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. You are just as likely to find fossils along the tide line and foreshore at high tide than on the uppermost part of the beach.
Information courtesy of U K G E