Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Fossil Coast

Gault Clay Cliffs
Today we decided to go to the fossil coast at Copt Bay, Folkestone.  The weather was warm with the sun breaking through the clouds occasionally. We made a flask of coffee, packed a small daysack and loaded Pants into the car.  The trip is about 5 minutes from home we could in fact walk there but to ensure we got the tide at the right time we drove. A short walk to the edge of the cliffs and a sharp descent down to the fossils embedded into the face of the cliffs.  I am no expert when it comes to fossils so much of the information has been taken from the on site information board that is located at the top of the cliffs.
Ammonite impression
We discovered the beach and fossil coast by accident. Despite being so close we had never stumbled on the fossil area, not being local or living long in the area. I have to say that it is now one of our favourite locations. The fossils date from the Albian stage of the Early Cretaceous epoch, approximately 110 million years ago. The fossils in general are found in the Gault clay. 


The best time to go is after a storm when the cliff face has been eroded, that was the first time we visited and we found plenty of nice impressions and fossils. We ventured up to the Gault clay cliffs and I soon discovered a few nice impressions in the clay. The area around the cliffs in general is littered with concrete Anti tank / vehicle blocks left from World War II to prevent landings these are now being overgrown with seaweed. 
Pants inspecting the Old WW II sea defences

The last time we came to the beach we found a fragment of old mug / cup dated 1852. To me these simple little things are quite fascinating. We proceeded along the cliff looking for fossils and impressions I found a few more examples in the clay.  

 Hoptitidae sp 
Neohibolites Minimus
However, we found very little on the beach area probaly due to the lack of heavy weather damage to the cliffs.
Hamites Maximus

 I have taken some pictures of previous finds of visits to Copt point.

Hoptitidae sp
Hoptitidae sp
Anahoplites sp and Neohibolites Minimus
The tide was at its lowest point when we arrived, the ebb is only about 35 minutes before the tide comes in it is quite easy to get carried away with the exploration and get cut of on the point. The small sandy beach area a little away from the cliffs is popular with people looking for prawns / shrimp we observed a man shrimping and actually met up with him when we were leaving he had a few pounds of fresh caught shrimps with him. We decided to wander back to the beach area and have a look around after a lady had commented that you could find some nice examples of fossils with mother of pearl inlay still on at low tide in that area. 

We duly had a look but to no avail, another location to check out the next time we visit. Time to stop for a cup of coffee. 

Pants had been swimming he really enjoys the water trying to get rocks out of the sea strange dog. Once we had drank our coffee we decided to head off back to the car.  Its truly amazing how quickly time goes when you are enjoying yourself we had been on the coast for over 2 hours and the tide was well on the way in.  I am going to invest in a small shrimp net and give it a go.  We love shellfish, I am sure that it will be fun and a bit of a laugh.  I might do a short blog on our first shrimping expedition it depends on how succesful we are.


  1. What a fun place to go--loved the description and the photos! It's mind-boggling (impossible, in fact) to grasp that something dates back 110 million years.

  2. We are so lucky to live so close to the fossil coast. When you see the fossils in the clay with mother of pearl still attached it's difficult to believe they are that old. Thank you for you kind comments Willowjune.