Fossil hunter’s guide to the Yorkshire coast

Samuel McKie, with Tilly Dalglish (UK) The stretch of coast from Speeton to Holderness is often forgotten by tourists and fossil collectors alike; certainly compared with places such as Whitby or destinations along the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. However, the shore of the East Riding has many beautiful sights and a rich history. From Viking settlements to eighteenth century sea battles, and Neolithic standing stones to Victorian seabird hunting, there is evidence here of humans fighting, farming, hunting and praying spanning many thousands of years. Fig. 1. Flamborough sponge bed at Sewerby Cliffs. But the stones of the shore tell a far older story. The coast starts chronologically at Speeton sands, where the Jurassic sandstones found at Whitby, Ravenscar, Scarborough and Filey end with a small Kimmeridge Clay exposure, before giving way to the Cretaceous strata of Flamborough Head. This small peninsular confronts the North Sea around 30km north of the Humber’s Spurn Point. Following the coast southward, exposures from almost the entire Cretaceous period are present (120 to 70Ma old). After this, the glaciation till (or boulder clay) smothers the land from Bridlington southwards. Fig. 2. Map of Flamborough Head and geological features. Flamborough has a rich variety of wildlife: orchids flower and seabirds nest on the chalky cliffs in summer, while seals and porpoises shelter in the bay in the winter months. This is recognised at an international level by the site of special scientific interest (SSSI) designation, which prohibits damage to the habitats. The RSPB and The … Read More

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