A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the East Dorset Coast

By Steve Snowball and Craig Chivers

After having favourably reviewed the first two books in this threesome (the others are A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast and A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast), I must admit I was very much looking forward to the publication of this last one. And, of course, I wasn’t disappointed.

As I say, this is the third in a series of guides to safe and responsible fossil collecting along (this time), the East Dorset coast from the Chalk cliffs at Bat’s Head, across what are some of Dorset’s more remote coastal locations, to Hengistbury Head. The information contained is clearly fully up-to-date (as far as I am concerned) and contains detailed descriptions of fossil-bearing sites, their geology and the fossils to be found there. Therefore, it is ideal for amateur fossil collectors, as well as the more experienced collector, to read both before and during their visit to this lovely stretch of coast. In this respect and as always, the guide is illustrated in full colour, with beautiful photographs of the East Dorset landscape and of the fossils, together with reconstructions of life in Jurassic and Cretaceous times by palaeo-artist, Andreas Kurpisz (who also worked with the authors in the previous two guides).

I read this guide from cover to cover, but like the other two guides, you can use it to dip into to learn just about the place you are actually going to visit. In this way, it provides an introduction to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site, and covers the Dorset fossil collecting code of conduct and explains the East Dorset geological succession (including sections on making sense of the fossil record). Most importantly, it warns of the dangers of being cut off by the tide in some the more remote bays, especially those near Kimmeridge Bay. It also covers Steve Etches’ museum (The Etches Collection) in Kimmeridge, which is a must for anyone visiting the area and who is interested in Kimmeridge fossils.

The fossil collecting in East Dorset that the guide covers are six excursions near:

  • Durdle Door: Bat’s Head to St. Oswald’s Bay, Dungy Head and Lulworth Cove.
  • Worbarrow Bay: Mupe Bay, Worbarrow Bay, Brandy Bay and Gad Cliff.
  • Kimmeridge Bay: Broad Bench towards Chapman’s Pool.
  • St Aldhelm’s Head: St. Aldhelm’s Head and the Purbeck Quarries.
  • Durlston Bay: Durlston Bay, Peveril Point and Swanage.
  • Hengistbury Head: Studland Bay and Hengistbury Head.

Craig Chivers lives and works on the Jurassic Coast and is renowned for his fossil preparation, including of many important finds, for example, the Jurassic Welsh theropod, Dracoraptor hanigani, which is displayed in National Museum Wales. Steve Snowball also lives on the Jurassic coast and has been collecting fossils since he was small.

A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the East Dorset Coast, by Steve Snowball and Craig Chivers, Siri Scientific Press, Manchester (2021), 190 pages (paperback), ISBN: 9781838152826

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