The Fossil Files
You’ll find plenty to explore along the Yorkshire Coast, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fossil hunter. This is a coastline that has long been popular with geologists and beachcombers alike. Find your own fossils and discover what it was like to live 180 million years ago.
Thousands of prehistoric prints have been discovered over recent decades on the 40-mile stretch from Sandsend to Filey, earning it the name The Dinosaur Coast. Experts say they have identified Britain’s oldest sauropod from a fossil bone discovered on the Yorkshire coast. Now held in the collections of the Yorkshire Museum it represents the earliest skeletal record of this type of dinosaur from the UK.
165 million years ago, the area around Scarborough was a green sub-tropical river delta. Herbivore dinosaurs came for the bountiful food and carnivores for the bountiful herbivores. The profusion of prints and lack of actual bones points to this being a gathering, rather than nesting place. The Rotunda Museum is home to ‘Scarborough’s Lost Dinosaurs’, an exhibition which brings together all the fossilised evidence for dinosaurs in the area throughout the Jurassic period. Come face-to-face with the dinosaurs themselves, see what they ate and experience the sounds they heard and the world they inhabited.
Steeped in history, Robin Hood's Bay is a quaint fishing village full of unique charm and character and is a must with geologists as the village sits along the Jurassic Coast, ideal for fossil hunting and rock pooling. Ravenscar is also a great place to find fossils and Raven Hall Hotel has assembled a small fossil collection of its own, which even includes a primitive ‘crocodilian’.
The small coastal town of Whitby has been associated with fossils for hundreds of years. From the common ammonites to the spectacular marine reptiles, a variety of fossils are there to be found. The Victorians gave Whitby its signature souvenir – the hand carved jewellery made of deep blackjet, a fossilised Jurassic-age wood that’s abundant on these shores. It’s the wood of the monkey puzzle tree. Jet has been used for thousands of years as an adornment and Whitby jewellers like W Hamond (“The Original Whitby Jet Shop”) continue the tradition today.
Kids drive the interest in fossils because fossils indicate dinosaurs. All kids at some point are fascinated with dinosaurs, so why not visit the beach and go and look for your own. From the very young to the young at heart, everybody can take part in fossil hunting. You are likely to be hooked from the very first fossil you find, and of course, you’ll be the first person to find what was once a living, breathing organism many millions of years ago.