Fossil Hunting

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Belemnite remains in beach boulder

What you can do

  • Skye has some amazing geology and its fossils dating from the Middle Jurassic period are world famous – including the recently discovered dinosaur footprints reported in November 2015.
  • So, go looking for fossil remains on the shore – a 10cm long fossilised jaw bone found in 2015 was reportedly on top of an exposed boulder!
  • Measure and photograph your finds or take them home with you.

    Honeycomb rock Elgol

    Honeycomb rock Elgol

Where to do it

  • Elgol coast is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its geology and offers pretty much guaranteed fossils and the quantity of bivalves in certain layers of rock is amazing.
  • There are several well-known locations in the Broadford area and the beach next to the path to Broadford Pier has shale containing shells like modern oysters.
  • Some of the best places are in the north of the Island (see map in activity room) and a visit to the Staffin Museum which has some fantastic fossils and dinosaur foot prints is recommended.
  • There are detailed notes in the activity room about where to go and a map with locations marked in the activity room.

What we provide

  • OS maps with locations marked and Geological map of central Skye
  • Selection of hammers and chisels including children’s weight hammer and safety goggles
  • Field ruler for measuring
  • Fossil guides

Advice about the activity

  • Where the sea erodes fossil bearing outcrops there is a good chance of making finds and it is less arduous looking at eroded rocks than chipping away at something more solid.
  • Some of the best finds are made after winter storms in the November to April period.
  • The beaches get churned up in winter and cliffs get eroded by rough seas exposing fresh rock revealing more fossils; one of the reasons that a world-famous paleo-botanist stays with us every April is because the chances of good finds are high at that time of the year.

Things to consider

  • Fossil hunting requires determination to get to the right places and extreme good fortune to find something really dramatic.
  • Many fossil remains are actually quite small and seemingly insignificant but the chances of finding plants remains and shellfish remains are very high, although some may be in bed rock.
  • Extreme care needs to be taken when using hammers and chisels and safety goggles need to be worn at all times.

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    Belemnites in rock on the Scavaig shore