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FOSSIL HUNT - Seatown, Dorset
Sun 10 September 2017, 11:00 – 16:00 BST
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.
* Suitable for children 9+
* LEADERS: Lizzie Hingley and Steve Snowball
* HARD HATS (No Cycle Helmets), and HIGH VISIBILITY VESTS or jacket essential.
We try to keep most events to a 11am till 4pm schedule, but final times may vary depending on tide times and working around quarries. We will always advice start time and where to meet well in advance of the event.
Please note, many of our locations will not have toilet facilities, water, or other amenities.
Fossil guide to this location: https://ukfossils.co.uk/2008/10/11/seatown/
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.
Can my child less than 4 attend the event?
We strongly advice against taking children under 4, but if the event allows children and leaders agree, then this is possible providing they are under your responsibility and care, and do not use tools or equipment. Please contact us on 01502 725205 (Mon-Fri 8am-3pm) for more information.
Can I book over the phone?
Yes, you can, and we can take card payment, however a waiver must be signed before we can accept your booking. The waiver can be emailed or posted out, but must be returned within one week of the booking. Contact us on: 01502 725205 (Mon-Fri 8am-3pm).
Can I pay on the day?
Sorry, we do not allow anyone to pay on the day, as we cannot provide pre-preparation details on risk assessment, and due to health and safety, places are limited.
Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?
This will greatly help us and speed things up, but leaders will have a list of those attending on the day.
Is my registration ticket transferrable?
Please contact us and we normally try to accommodate this.
I have a question not listed?
Please contact us on 01502 725205 (Mon-Fri 8am-3pm).
What happens if I can’t make it on time or get to the venue?
You need to contact us urgently. If this is within a few days of the event, call us on 01502 725205 (Mon-Fri 8am till 4pm), if it is on the day or a couple of days before, contact the leader in the final confirmation email detailing where to meet and times. We cannot guarenete we can wait for you, but where possible, we will try.
Are toilets nearby?
Most events will not have access to toliets. The best places to find fossils are mostly areas away from built up areas, and tend to be quite remote. There are a few exceptions where toliets are close by, but it is best to presume they wont be available.
Will my husband’s hammer and chisels from his tool box be okay to bring?
No, standard tools are made from inferior metal which spliter very easily against rocks. This is both dangerious to yourself and others, and flying metal can cause eye injuries or penetrate the skin. ONLY hammers specifically made for geological use can be used. We offer some to add to your order if you dont have any.
What happens if the event is cancelled?
We try very hard to avoid having to cancel, but if an event needs to be cancelled due to adverse weather conditons or unforeseen circansances, we will notify you immediately, and you will be offered an alternative hunt or date or a refund.