A Pocket Guide to the London Clay exposed on the north shore of the Isle of Sheppey, Kent

Rockwatch Guide No 1

Adrian Rundle (UK)

There are only a few good books on the London Clay and its fossils (see below for a list), but this little guide that the Geologists’ Association created a good while ago is a good start for beginners, children and teenagers. Rockwatch, which published this guide, is the national geology club for young people, the junior club of the GA. Having said that, this guide does not dumb down the information it contains.

One of the best places to collect London Clay fossils is the Isle of Sheppey, at the south-eastern end of the Thames estuary. I have been there many times myself and it is a great place to go.

This first (and only) Rockwatch Field Guide to the cliffs between Minster and Warden Point, on the north shore of the island, and shows you where best to find Eocene fossils from the London Clay Formation Eocene (about 52 Ma old).

Many of these fossils are beautifully pyritised. The guide has details of good collecting points, excellent black and white line drawings to help identify finds. It also contains a bibliography, a list of museums where London Clay fossils can be seen, techniques for their collection, and information about the London Clay Formation itself.

In particular, A Pocket Guide to the London Clay covers the best spots for finding the following fossils:

  • Molluscs (gastropods, scaphopods and bivalves).
  • Fish (including and especially sharks’ teeth).
  • Plants (fruit, seeds and wood).
  • Other macrofossils (worm tubes and borings, brachiopods, and crabs.
  • Microfossils.
  • Minerals.

Other great books on the London Clay are:

Dr Adrian Rundle is Learning Curator at the Natural History Museum and is an expert on the flora, fauna and minerals of this area of Kent. He also runs geological field trips and microfossil workshops for children and adults.

The guide can be bought at the Geologists’ Association website.

A Pocket Guide to the London Clay Exposed on the North Shore of the Isle of Sheppey, Kent (Rockwatch Guide), by Adrian Rundle, Geologists’ Association, London (2006), 28 pages (laminated paperback), ISBN-13: 978-09007176-5-9

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