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Burton Bradstock fossils and fossil collecting

The best way to access Burton Bradstock is to head towards the village of Burton Bradstock. This is not well signposted, but you should pass a sign in the village pointing to the beach. You will pass a petrol station in a cutting with the Bridport Sands Formation visible near the road. Follow this road round the bend and you will find another road leading down to the beach, where there is a car park, cafe and toilets.
From here, we recommend walking along the top of the cliffs and then dropping down the opposite side, as this is where the fossils are found. Few fossils are found at the eastern end, as there is no Inferior Oolite there.

GRID REF: 50.69608°N, 2.72253°W

ammonites, belemnites, echinoids, mollusc's, shark remains, and more.
Fossil Collecting at Burton Bradstock

Locals wait months for 'Burton to fall', and when she does, her rich ammonite beds yield superb finds, with bags to bring home. Cliff falls occur every two to three years, and fossils can then be collected from the rocks on the foreshore or from any of the scree slopes. As well as ammonites, many other fossils can be found, including echinoids, shark fins, bivalves and brachiopods.
Where is it


If you are prepared to take heavy lump hammers and split blocks, or if you are lucky enough to arrive shortly after a fresh fall, there is plenty to be found. This includes superb ammonites, bones, shells and much, much more.

Not suitable

Burton Bradstock is not suitable for families, as the cliffs can be dangerous and people have been killed here by cliff falls.

Easy Access

Access to the beach at Burton Bradstock is quite easy, with a car park nearby. However, you do have to walk to the western end, which can be very difficult on return, if you have a bag crammed full of fossils.

Foreshore, Cliffs

This is a foreshore and cliff location, so fossils can be found in both. The vast majority of fossils need to be worked for by smashing blocks of Inferior Oolite on the foreshore. Do not hammer into the cliffs, as they can be very unstable and this is also a SSSI.

No Hammering Cliff

This site is part of the Jurassic World Heritage Coastline. Please follow the Fossil Code of Conduct. Access is permitted SSSI -

NO HAMMERING THE CLIFF - The unstable cliffs are very unpredictable and can fall at anytime, you won't find anything in the sands and can only find fossils in the Oolite blocks which come from the very top of the cliff.


Common sense when collecting at all locations should be used and prior knowledge of tide times is essential. Care should be taken of tides at all locations. The well-known exposures of fossiliferous limestone at the foot of the cliffs are of course the result of cliff falls and people have been killed in the past at this site. While major falls are not common, special care must be taken to watch for areas from where loose material may fall. Wet or frosty weather conditions can cause cliff falls. Some other places, such as the low cliffs east of Burton Bradstock and some parts of Portland and Chesil Beach can be visited more safely instead. At all times, you should wear safety helmets and watch out for any dangerous activity on the cliff face. Since this is at the western part of Chesil Beach, there is some risk of being cut off by the tide or swept into the sea in very stormy weather conditions.

Burton Bradstock
Tide Times


UK Tidal data is owned by Crown Copyright, and therefore sadly we are not allowed to display tide times without paying expensive annual contracts. However we sell them via our store, including FREE POSTAGE
Click here to buy a tide table


Higher Spence


Farm Cottage, beautiful location 3 miles Charmouth. Double and Family rooms En Suite.

Contact: Christine Nutkins
Tel: UK (01297) 560556
Tel: International +441297 560556 Address: Higher Spence, Wootton, Fitzpaine, Charmouth, Dorset.

Email: Website: (Typing "Higher Spence into your search engine)


Dorset coastal cottages


We are a holiday agent for 120 carefully selected and inspected cottages within 10 miles of Dorset's spectacular World Heritage Coast and Path. All are old, many are beamy and thatched, most have open fires or logburners plus central heating. Rents include electricity, gas etc. and all linen/towels.

Rentable by the week or 3 day Short Break all year round!!

Please call: 0800 9804070 for a Brochure or visit our website on

Jennifer Owens Direct:
01305 851033

If you would like to advertise on this page, please 'contact us'.
£10/Year or 'FREE' for return links from accommodation website pages.

Last updated:  2008
last visited:  2008
Written by:  Alister and Alison Cruickshanks
Edited by:  Jon Trevelyan

Locations similar to Burton

For locations which also have Inferior Oolite or Bridport Sands of which fossil collecting is permitted, try 'West Bay', next to Burton Bradstock, 'Ketton Quary' in Lincolnshire, or in Gloucestershire you could visit, 'Gilberts Grave' On the Isle of Skye, Bearreraig Bay also has Inferior Oolite.

Geological Tools Burton Bradstock is a location where you have to work hard for your finds, so take a good, strong heavy hammer and safety goggles to crack open the oolitic rocks. Remember to take plenty of paper to wrap any specimens.


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Fossil Collecting
Your Reports

This site is part of the Jurassic World Heritage Coastline. This is also a SSSI, so no hammering into the cliff is permitted. In addition, the unstable cliffs are very unpredictable and can fall at anytime. You won't find much in the Bridport Sands and can only really find fossils in the oolitic blocks, which come from the very top of the cliff.

Burton Bradstock is rich in ammonites and there are many different species to be found, nearly all from the Inferior Oolite. These include: Parkinsonia, Schloenbachi Schlippe, Garantiana garantiana, Strigoceras truellei, Strenoceras niortensis, Teloceras blagdeni, Otoites sauzei, Shirbuirnia stephani, Hyperlioceras discites, Ludwigella concava, Tmetoceras scissum, Brasilia bradfordensi and Ludwigia murchisonae. Bones can also be found, including sharks’ spines.

There are a lot of fallen blocks of Inferior Oolite limestone, in which it is possible to find not just of ammonites, but also sponges, echinoids (Clypeus), brachiopods and bivalves. This particularly fossiliferous bed is from the higher part of the Inferior Oolite (from the Upper Bajocian). From within the Frome Clay and Forest Marble Beds, although rare, the brachiopods Goniorhynchia boueti, Avonothyris and Digonella and bivalves have been found, usually in good condition.

Burton Bradstock is one of those locations where you have to be in the right place at the right time. Cliff falls are rare and a fall at the western end from the top of the Inferior Oolite is even rarer. They usually occur every two to three years and, when they do, you can guarantee that the locals will be down like a shot. However, although most of the prize finds are usually snapped up quickly, a decent sized cliff fall can provide weeks and even months of decent collecting for smaller specimens or, with some hard work, even larger ones.

Unless you are local and visit often, you are going to have to work hard to make finds. Walk along the beach until you can see lumps of very hard limestone or cliff falls. Note that any cliff fall of just sand is probably not going to produce anything worthwhile. Similarly, there is no Inferior Oolite at the eastern end. However, worn and/or broken ammonites can often be seen and these can usually be extracted using a heavy lump hammer - some hard work splitting the rock can yield some superb finds.

When a cliff fall occurs, the larger ammonites often get buried in the Bridport Sands. Therefore, if you move rubble around and turn rocks over, ammonites can sometimes be found loose, without too much trouble.
Although it is tempting to climb the falls, these cliffs are very unstable after recent collapses, and even small pieces of rock falling from a height can cause serious injury. You should search around the base of the fall and not the base of the cliff. If you can, carry any rocks you are working on away from the fall site and as far as possible away from the base of the cliff.
With a little patience and by splitting rocks, you are almost certain to find at least some good ammonites. If the rock you are working on appears unproductive, try another. The ammonites are in zones, so once you find a fossiliferous rock, it’s likely to be full of other fossils.

At the eastern end of Burton Bradstock, there is a small cliff with blue-grey clay. This is actually the Frome Clay and Forest Marble. Sadly, the exposures are badly slipped and are often muddled up making it hard to identify any zones in which fossils are present. Shells are exposed within this, sometimes just lying on the surface. You can often walk along the base of the cliff and pick up some good specimens.

Geological Succession of Burton Bradstock

Geology Guide Jurassic, 180-195mya

Burton Cliff is similar to East Cliff at West Bay but, in its middle part, the Bridport Sands are succeeded by the full thickness (3.7m) of Upper, Middle and Lower Inferior Oolite, and a little of the Fuller's Earth. The Inferior Oolite is not safely accessible in the cliff, but large, fallen blocks are present on the foreshore, where they have collapsed from the cliffs above. In these, almost the full thickness of the unit can be studied. There is access to the beach near to the stream (the River Bride or Bredy) and, 155m east of this point, a fault down throwing eastwards cuts the cliff, dropping the Inferior Oolite capping sufficiently to bring in Fuller's Earth in a cliff top outcrop. Beyond the fault are the large fallen blocks of Inferior Oolite.

The sandstone (Bridport Sand) is blue-grey when unweathered, but gains a thin surface layer of yellow when weathered, as fine-grained pyrite is oxidised to limonite or goethite. The sands contain belemnites and trace fossils, and the occasional moulds of ammonites, as the original aragonite shells have been dissolved away.

There is a smaller cliff just after the high cliffs at Burton, which consists of Forest Marble and Frome Clay. However, it is much degraded at its base, as it is protected by a stretch of shingle, which is part of Chesil Beach. In this cliff, 200m east of the car park, the Boueti Bed can be traced in the eroded ground between the footpath and the cliff top. It yields the brachiopods Goniorhynchia boueti, Avonothyris, and Digonella, together with bivalves and other fossils. In the cliffs below, the Frome Clay can be examined and it also crops out in the low cliffs at Burton Common and Cliff End...[more]

Geology of North Yorkshire in one boulder at Burton Bradstock
Geology of North Yorkshire in one boulder at Burton Bradstock

More Guides

Ammonite from Burton Bradstock
Ammonite from Burton Bradstock....[more]

Related Books
Geological Supplies

Discover Dorset Fossils

A fantastic well written book covering fossils of the Dorset Coast. It contains useful tips and the most popular locations along the coast along with the fossils you can find. This popular book is available from our own UK Fosils/UKGE Store.

All of our books have FREE UK Delivery, We have hundreds of geological books for sale.

At Burton Bradstock, you can find Microfossils from the Bridport Sands. You only need a small sample of the sand. You then need to wash it in water and sieve using a test sieve. Once the sand is processed, you can then view the contents using a microscope.

We have a wide range of microscopes for sale, you will need a Stereo microscope for viewing microfossils. The best one we sell is the IMXZ, but a basic microscope will be fine. Once you have found microfossils, you will need to store these microfossils.

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While we (UKGE/UK Fossils) try to ensure that the content of this location guide is accurate and up to date, we cannot and do not guarantee this. Nor can we be held liable for any loss or injury caused by or to a person visiting this site. Remember: this is only a location guide and the responsibility remains with the person or persons making the visit for their own personal safety and the safety of their possessions. That is, any visit to this location is of a personal nature and has not been arranged or directly suggested by UK Fossils. In addition, we recommend visitors get their own personal insurance cover. Please also remember to check tide times and rights of way (where relevant), and to behave in a responsible and safe manner at all times (for example, by keeping away from cliff faces and mud).
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