South West England

Thousands of years of history, lying on our beaches...

FossilIf you haven’t already tried it, fossil hunting is a fantastic day out for the whole family, with fun, fresh air and the chance to start your own collection!

Don't worry, any fossils left on the beach would be naturally lost to the sea anyway, so feel free to take them home with you.

Here in South West England, we’re lucky to have some great places for fossil hunting, with excellent sites in Somerset at Minehead, Watchet and Quantoxhead and Dorset at Charmouth, Portland and Lyme Regis, to name only a few.

In fact, with its unique geology and prehistoric features, the entire coastline between Exmouth in East Devon and Studland in Dorset has been officially designated as England's first Natural World Heritage Site - placing it alongside the Great Barrier Reef as one of the natural wonders of the world. 

FossilThe best time to collect fossils by the sea is at low tide, after there’s been a storm – when the cliffs have been eroded by the crashing waves. This makes fossil hunting a great reason to take family holidays in Somerset and Dorset during the late autumn, throughout the winter and into early spring.

But remember, be extremely careful when you’re walking near the cliffs as falls can happen at any time. In fact, it's usually best to spend time looking on the beach itself anyway, as the cliff falls will often dislodge the fossils among the stones on the beach.

Useful Links…

For more information on hunting for fossils in South West England, including good fossil hunting locations, details of guided fossil hunting expeditions, residential courses and much more follow these links;Fossil

Fossil Collecting Guidelines…

  • Do not over collect, leave some for others
  • Collecting from fallen or beach material is acceptable practice
  • Digging in the cliffs is often NOT acceptable practice
  • Stay on marked public paths and tracks
  • If you have to cross over private land get the permission of the owner first
  • Always have the right equipment and clothes
  • Always let someone know where you’re going
  • Always check tide times before setting off
  • Take notes of where you find fossils
  • Cliffs falls can happen at any time, so beware of falling stones & debris
  • Always take your litter home
  • Tell the experts if you find something amazing


Fossil Hunting