By Philip Hadland
There are several good books on the fossils of the Gault Clay (see Fossils of the Gault Clay) and, by extension, Folkestone (and of course, there is the late Jim Craig’s brilliant website, Gault Ammonite). However, this little guide has an advantage over the others that I have looked at.
Yes, this and the others all have marvellous, often full colour illustrations of the relevant Gault fossils, but, as anyone who has struggled over the boulders from the end of the concrete harbour to Copt Point will know, there is a lot of Greensand, containing marvellous and multitudinous trace fossils (especially, Thallassinoides). And, around the corner in East Wear Bay, there is the beginning of the Chalk that ends up at the White Cliffs of Dover and beyond. But did you also know that Pleistocene mammal fossils (for instance, hippopotamuses) have been found at Folkestone?
And that is why I think anyone who has, say, the excellent PalAss book on Gault Clay fossils should also get the cheaper, but no less well produced guide, Fossils of Folkestone, Kent. It has lovely illustrations of the usual (and some of the less usual) suspects from the Gault (ammonites, crabs, belemnites, vertebrates and so on), but Philip Hadland also illustrates and discusses many of the fossils from the Lower Greensand, Chalk and Pleistocene sediments.
In fact, it is the Greensand fossils that intrigued me the most, particularly the dinosaur bones and trackways. However, he also illustrates the brachiopods, bivalves, echinoderms, gastropods, ammonites, barnacles and lobsters that can be found there. I have collected successfully from Folkestone for decades, including from the Chalk, but I have never found any of these or, indeed, any Pleistocene mammals, because I did not know they were there, so did not look for them.
The guide also covers the history of collecting at Folkestone, along with the geology, habitat reconstruction and fossils from the Lower Greensand, Gault Clay, Chalk and Pleistocene. Importantly, it also contains brief information of preserving, cataloguing and storing fossils, and a bibliography of references and other useful reading.
The author currently works at Folkestone Museum, allowing him access to very rare local fossils, including several from the local Pleistocene deposits. The museum (which I would recommend visiting) also displays some choice specimens from his collection.
Fossils of Folkestone, Kent, by Philip Hadland, Siri Scientific Press, Manchester (2018), 148 pages (paperback), ISBN: 978-09-95749-65-8