Fossil Hunting on the White Cliffs of Dover

My name is Greg I am experienced fossil hunter and I live in Kent. I will share my thoughts on area around the white cliffs of Dover and the art of fossil hunting there.

 There are few sights in Britain more stunning than the White Cliffs of Dover. Situated on the Dover Straight and facing towards France, the White Cliffs of Dover extend the shoreline for eight miles on either side of the English seaside town of Dover.

The surrounding area is as gorgeous as the cliffs are dramatic. Whether it is your first time or one hundredth time to visit the area, the White Cliffs of Dover will leave you awestruck.

White Cliffs of Dover: Why fossil hunt along the cliffs?

Located in the county of Kent, Dover has long been a fossil hunting destination. The cliffs are an exposure of “Middle and Upper Chalk” that date back to the Late Cretaceous time period. How long ago was the Late Cretaceous period? It was only 85 million to 89 million years ago, so the cliffs are very old and ancient fossils can be found on an exploration of them.

Long ago, the land that is today’s Dover was under a shallow sea. It was far away from land and the evidence of this shallow sea can be seen today in the fossils found in the area. Fossil evidence has revealed that a variety of prehistoric sea organisms such as sharks, crustaceans, sponges, and more maritime creatures lived there.

The White Cliffs of Dover are made up of calcium carbonate, which gives them their colour. The cliffs are also made up of microscopic organisms that were buried in the sediment thanks to flooding. You can explore the cliffs to find fossils amongst the chalk beds.

The Dorset Coast is ideal for fossil hunting whether a newbie or experienced explorer. As you explore the coastline, you will find more chalk beds with fossils buried in the layers of sediment. You can explore the region via walking trails and access the chalk beds to search for shell fossils.

White Cliffs of Dover: Where to find fossils?

You can locate fossils at the base of the cliff. Most fossil hunters begin their exploration around Langdon Hole Park and move out in either direction. Low tide is the safest time of the day to search for fossils on the foreshore. Low tide also makes it possible to find more fossils that have been uncovered by the water washing away.

You will see flint nodules and chalk boulders dotting the shore. These are perfect to search for fossils as a steady supply is provided by them. Fossil collectors should avoid chiseling fossils out of rocks and cliffs. This is prohibited, so you should turn your attention to collecting loose fossils on the shore or in the loose rocks. There are plenty of great-looking fossils located on the beach. It isn’t difficult to find them as you walk around the area.

White Cliffs of Dover: What tools are needed for fossil hunting?

Although you will find loose fossils on the shore, most are situated in the chalk boulders that dot the beach. For the most part, these fossils cannot be broken off from the rock by hand. You can damage the fossil attempting to remove it by hand.

Fossil hunters should have a hammer and chisel to remove the specimen from the boulders. While you can use a simple hammer from a hardware store, fossil hunters who take their craft seriously use a geological hammer. A regular hammer is okay to use as you will strike a chisel with it. You may purchase a hammer with a pick on the backside. The pick will help you chip away at the sediment. Safety glasses are also needed to prevent shards of rock and chalk from damaging your eyes.

The more experienced you become as a fossil hunter, the more tools you may add to your kit. Fossil hunters may use spades and trowels to shift through sediment such as sand and clay. It is unlikely that you will need a spade and trowel while searching the White Cliffs of Dover for fossils, however, you may be able to find a use for them. You can add even more items to your kit that might come in handy. Tweezers, a magnifying glass, and a notebook and pen are perfect to help you locate and record the fossils found. Don’t forget a pair of gloves to keep you from scratching, cutting, and bruising your hands

White Cliffs of Dover: What is the scenery like?

The great thing about a fossil hunting trip to Dover is that you can make a full day, week, or weekend of the adventure. Dover is a wonderful place to spend time. You can relax at one of its great pubs, cafes, or restaurants, or explore further afield when not hunting fossils around the cliffs.

After completing your fossil hunt, explore Samphire Hoe Park on the westside of the cliffs. The trails around the cliffs are majestic and offer great treks. One of the best is the walk to the town of Deal. St. Margret’s Bay is the midpoint between Deal and Dover. It is a glorious spot to stop off on your trek. The picturesque bay has a promenade with pub and cafe.

Near St. Margret Bay, you will find South Foreland Lighthouse. The lighthouse is famous as being the world’s first to use an electric light in 1859. A trip to Foreland Lighthouse offers you the chance to learn about its history as a scientific epicentre. Dover Castle is the largest of its kind in England. The well-kept castle is a symbol of Dover and can be explored during a day out.

White Cliffs of Dover: Conclusion

The White Cliffs of Dover are an icon of Great Britain. The cliffs rise dramatically from the land and are the first thing individuals see when travelling from France across the Dover Straight to England.

The area is an ideal part of the country to hunt for fossils. Thanks to millions of years of sediment build-up, you can find a variety of fossils just strolling along the shoreline. A few hunting tools allow you to find and extract even more great fossils to take home.