By Ken Brooks
I remember buying the first edition of Ken Brook’s fascinating little guide on Hastings a long time ago, and bumbling off to Hastings in the hope of finding Lower Cretaceous dinosaurs and tree ferns. Sadly, I was disappointed, as the area is not as productive as, say, the Dorset or North Yorkshire coastlines. Having said that, I have been back a few times armed with that first edition and have enjoyed the visits every time. It really is a great area for geology and walking, even if the fossils are not exactly jumping out at you.
Therefore, I have been awaiting this revised and extended new edition expectantly. The book begins with two local field trips, one of which is reproduced opposite in substantially the same form as in the guide. The coastal sections that are described from Hastings to Cliff End, including the section from Pett Level to Fairlight described opposite, is one of the best areas in Britain for finding the fossilised bones and teeth of fish, crocodiles, turtles, dinosaurs and pterosaurs. If you are lucky (unfortunately, I never have been), there are huge three-toed footprints, which provide clear evidence that dinosaurs once walked here on the mud of the Wealden floodplains.
The guide explains where you might find fossils and how to recognise them in a clear and informative style, using diagrams and full colour photographs, with most of the specimens illustrated having been collected and photographed by the author. There are also some useful additions at the end of the book, including a glossary, further reading and information about fossil displays at museums, and about geological societies and groups.
Given its price and the ease with which you can read its 76, A5 pages, it would be well worth buying a copy, to take on your first visit to the area. Undoubtedly, you will learn a huge amount if you follow the field trips and, if then you are inspired by the geology of the Weald, maybe you could go on to read all 769 pages of PalAss’ excellent English Wealden fossils. However, I really would recommend beginning with Ken’s short guide, as it is all you need to get started.
Geology and Fossils of the Hastings Area, by Ken Brooks (2nd edition), Ken & Diana Brooks (2014), 76 pages (paperback), ISBN: 9780957453050