Lyme Regis is famous for its geology, fossils and its unparalleled role in the birth of the earth sciences. The local Blue Lias clay found to the east and west of Lyme contains the remarkable fossil remains of marine creatures from the Jurassic seas of 180 million years ago.
It was on these beaches that one of Lyme's most famous citizens, Mary Anning (1799-1847), discovered the first complete ichthyosaur to be found in England; she was just 12 years old at the time.
Through her hard work and scientific approach to recording her discoveries, Mary established herself as a renowned palaeontologist, and working with contemporaries Buckland, Conybeare and Henry de la Beche, played a pioneering role in developing our understanding of the earth.
In recent years Mary Anning has been receiving the recognition she deserves, with the National History Museum hailing her as the as ‘the unsung hero of fossil discovery’.
On 21st May 2022 a new statue of Mary Anning will be unveiled at the eastern end of Long Entry, on what would have been Mary’s 223rd birthday.
A must for any budding palaeontologist is Lyme Regis Museum. Built on the site of Mary Anning’s former home, the museum houses a fascinating collection recording the Jurassic history of Lyme Regis, featuring an interactive fossil gallery in the brand-new extension.
With Lyme Regis being a gateway to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, fossils are still found by people of all ages on Lyme’s beaches, and with a bit of patience and luck you might be able to find your own fossil! But remember to think safety first, always check the tide tables before heading out and follow the Fossil Hunting Collecting Code.
One of the best ways to hunt for fossils is by joining an organised tour, where visitors can learn more about the fascinating creatures and explore the coast in a safe way. You can also find fool’s gold (iron pyrites), ammonites and bullet-shaped belemnites or trace ammonites in the large boulders.
Lyme Regis Museum, Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre and other local experts organise fossil hunts or rock pool rambles that visitors can join. What will you discover?
If you would like to see some fossils without the hard work, then take a stroll down to Monmouth Beach at low tide to see the ammonite pavement. Located to the west of the beach are some limestone ledges that display an abundance of fossils, with hundreds of ammonites on show. Said to be one of a kind, it really must be seen to be believed.
If you’re planning to go fossil hunting always check the tide tables before collecting or visiting the Ammonite Pavement. It is advisable that you go collecting on a falling tide. A particular hazard is the beach immediately east of Lyme Regis, which is cut off shortly after low tide. You can check the tide times here.
Mary was a fossil collector and palaeontologist whose work lead to some of the greatest finds.
Martin offers professional guided walks, Jurassic Coast tours, Charity Walks, Corporate Walking Events and fossil hunts anywhere along the full length of the Jurassic Coast and surrounding areas....
Set up to encourage safe and sustainable collecting of Jurassic fossils from local beaches, the centre offers hands-on displays, interactive computers and information about fossils and fossil hunting....
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