What is a fossil?

Fossils are the remains  of ancient animals and plants. They  are preserved in rocks such as shale, limestone, clay  and more rarely sandstone, which were laid down underwater, where the organic material was replaced by mineral such as calcite.


Barton Beds are seen in the cliffs between Highcliffe and Barton-on-Sea, were laid down approximately 40 million years ago. These are mainly grey clays, more sandy towards the top, and they form very boggy tumbled cliffs. This is one of the muddiest places to fossil hunt, as shown by the frequent occurrence of lost boots, high tide can also be an inconvenience. Most conspicuous are the molluscs especially the gastropods and after storms, fossil teeth are frequently found in the shingle.