Book review: A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales, by Steve Snowball and Craig Chapman

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Jon Trevelyan (UK)

This is a guide to the collection, preservation and display of fossils from more than 50 locations in the UK, with a forward by ichthyosaur expert, and sometime Deposits contributor and TV star, Dean Lomax. It is unashamedly based on the UK fossils format (see, but obviously, rather than being an online resource, it is a pocket sized book to be taken and read on site. As far as I am concerned, it is always nicer to have a book in your hand at a site, rather than a crumpled piece of paper with a printout from the Internet. And for this reason, I welcome this addition to the coverage of palaeontology in the UK.

It contains chapters on what fossils are, how and where to look for them, what tools to use and bring, preparing and preserving fossils, identifying, labelling, storing and displaying them, and safe and responsible collecting. The locations are described in three sections, grouped by geological era (Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic) in ascending age. There is also a section on museums and galleries, and a bibliography of both relevant books and websites.

It is clearly aimed at the amateur in terms of the language used and the format, but the full colour, high quality pictures (that we have come to expect of guide books these days) of both the sites and the fossils that may be found make it a pleasant book to read and own. For each location, there is information on the geology and the fossils that can be found (and where to find them), the safety issues, suitability for children, and how to get there. It also suggests what tools are appropriate to take to the specific location and whether there are restrictions (for example, because the site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest of SSSI) and what these mean in practical terms.

The authors, Steve Snowball and Craig Chapman, are amateur collectors, who are involved in the fossil club UKAFH, which is advertised in this magazine. Steve is deputy head of UKAFH and Craig is a founder member. Steve is also an Ambassador for the Jurassic Coast Trust.

A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales, by Steve Snowball and Craig Chapman, Siri Scientific Press, Manchester (2017), 288 pages (paperback), ISBN: 978-0992997991

Available from UKGE: A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales

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