Friday, June 29, 2007

Fossils at Charmouth

I was on holiday in Charmouth a few weeks ago, its a beautifull little gateway town to the Jurassic Coast which I reccomend. Its beauty lies in the fact that it makes many towns, beaches and cliffs on the Jurassic Coast very accessable

While I was there, I went fosiiling on Charmouth beach with my son, so we duly rented a fossil hammer, and we were off. Fossils are the remains of animals and plants that have been preserved in stone. they are the raw material for the science of paleantology, providing direct evidence of past life on Earth and the way it has changed over millions of years. The rocks that make up the cliffs at Charmouth are rich in the fossils of animals that swam in the Jurassic seas. The coast erodes rapidly resulting in thousands of fossils being fed onto the beaches from the landslides in surrounding cliffs, especially after the winter storms. The remains that have been found here since the eighteenth century represent one of the richest slices of life in Jurassic times anywhere in the world

It had been raining the night before, so that should have given the cliffs the ideal conditions to offer up a few fossils. We were total novices, never having been fossiling before, so we were learning as we went along. As you can see, we found some ammonites, some better than others, so if we can do it, so can you! If the cliffs arent offering up fossils, there is a local shop that sells them!

There is a code of conduct relating to the collection of fossils, which operates between Lyme regis and Burton Bradstock:

  • the best and safest place to look for fossils is on the beach where the sea has washed away soft clay and mud
  • do not collect or hammer into the cliffs, fossil features or rocky ledges
  • keep collecting to a minimum - avoiding the removal of in-situ fossils, rocks or minerals
  • the collection of actual specimens should be restricted to those places where there is a plentifull supply
  • only collect what you need, leaving some for others
  • never collect from walls or buildings
  • take care not to undermine fences, bridges or other structures
  • be considerate and dont leave a site in an unsightly or dangerous condition
  • some landowners do not wish people to collect, please observe notices
  • report any important fossil finds at the Charmouth Heritage Coast centre

Source: some text from 'The Official Guide to the Jurassic Coast'

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Coastal Erosion at Westbay

Friday, June 08, 2007


Following the eyeline to the east of Weymouth provides interesting walking and beaches with unusual features. The coast is made up of complex sequences of rocks, which have been jumbled up by geological folds and faults

The cliffs here are formed from Upper Jurassic clays, limestones and sandstones


Text: The Official Guide to the Jurassic Coast

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Through the Trees to Charmouth

Charmouth is a Gateway Town, but is located very close to the shoreline

The rocks at Charmouth are 195 million years old and from the Jurassic geological period. Charmouth covers the area from Black Venn in the West to Stonebarrow in the East. Black Venn was the scene of the largest mudslide in Europe during the winter of 1958 / 59 and Stonebarrow is the scene of occasional cliff falls

Settlement of Charmouth began in the early Iron Age by a Celtic tribe known as the Durotriges. Evidence of thier impressive hill-forts survive today in the surrounding area. the most notable being Maiden Castle, sacked by the Romans in around AD47

Charmouths first claim to fame came in the years 833 and 840 when the Wessex kings Ethelred and Ethelwolf unsuccessfully tried to repel Viking invaders. Eventually the Vikings settled peacefully among the local population. The community living on the bank of the River Cerne. The village 'Cernmunde' was recorded in the Doomsday book of 1088

In 1501 catherine of Aragon stayed in the village on her way to marry Arthur, brother of Henry VIII. Charles II is reputed to have sheltered here after his escape from the Battle of Worcester in 1651

Currently it has a population of about 1200