FOSSIL HUNT - Ringstead Bay, Dorset

Sunday, July 9, 2017 from 10:00 AM to 1:30 PM (LMT) More Information →

Ringstead Bay is a wonderful location, with rocks and fossils from the Corallian, Kimmeridge Clay, Purbeck Beds and Portland Beds to be found. The site consists mostly of Kimmeridge Clay from the Upper Jurassic. It is rich in fossils and with easy parking, toilets and refreshments nearby; it’s an ideal, safe location for the family. The site is productive in either direction from the access point. This location is also just a short walk away from other good sites and makes for an ideal day trip.

* Suitable for children 4+
* LEADERS: Steve Snowball and Lizzie Hingley
* HARD HATS (No Cycle Helmets), and HIGH VISIBILITY VESTS or jacket essential.

Please download and read the RISK ASSESSMENT Document

Please download and read the PPE POLICY Document

Please note, many of our locations will not have toilet facilities, water, or other amenities. 

Fossil guide to this location:

Turning right (west) walk towards Bran Point, the nearest visible headland. Here, the rocks are of Corallian age. The first feature of interest along this section is the exposure of the Sandsfoot Formation, (previously known as the Ringstead Coral Bed). This marks the junction between the older Corallian rocks with the overlying, younger Kimmeridge Clay. The junction is marked by the presence of large, lopsided brachiopod of the variety Torquirhynchia inconstans and is known as the Inconstans Bed. The Kimmeridge Clay crops out in the low cliffs near the Coral Bed and the scattered shells of the oyster Deltoideum delta are a common occurrence at Ringstead Bay.

At this location, the Corallian consists of brown and dark green sandy clay, often with rich oolitic ironstone present. Occasionally, isolated corals can be found but in the main, colonial corals form part of a thin but distinguishable layer of limestone, protruding from the low cliffs at beach level. The layer comprises corals, bivalves and other fauna often found in broken rocks beneath the low, slumped cliffs at this section. The various fossil corals, include the solitary coral Thecosmilia annularis and other reef corals such as Thamnasteria and Protoseis.

On the foreshore and as off-shore reefs, especially at low tide, can be seen the prominent Corallian rocks of the Osmington Oolite Formation and Clavellata Formation, consisting of the worn surfaces of thousands of thick shells within an incredibly hard limestone. This rock extends out into the sea as a wave-cut platform with distinct reefs. The shells mostly belong to the large marine bivalve, Myophorella clavellata are very common in Corallian rocks between Ringstead and Weymouth. These shells are very difficult to extract and collection should be left to isolated specimens and single, wave-worn specimens, which often turn up on the beach.

Walking left (east) from the access point, along the shingle beach towards White Nothe, past the small caravan site and rock armour, the tall cliffs of slumped, badly weathered Kimmeridge Clay forms the majority of the rock type found. The cliffs at the eastern end of the bay are known as Burning Cliff, due to a spontaneous combustion of the organic-rich bituminous oil shales within the clay. The fires burned from 1826 to 1830 but there has been no recent occurrence!

The Kimmeridge Clay here, from 153 Mya, is fossiliferous with ammonites (Pictonia densicostata, Rasenia cymodoce, Aulacostephanus sp., Amoeboceras (Nannocardioceras) sp.), bivalves (e.g. Lopha gregarea) and gastropods (including Bathrotomaria reticulata and Bourgetia). These are often quite fragile. Worm tubes (Cycloserpula intestinalis) are common finds. Large bivalves, Ctenostreon proboscideum, embedded in the rocks as partial specimens, are also frequently found. Marine reptile remains are rare but do occur.

High in the cliffs, east of Burning Cliff and west of Holworth House (and also frequently seen as slipped masses at beach level), are the strata of the Portland Limestone Formation and the basal part of the Purbeck Formation.

The rocks here are folded and faulted, forming a spectacular unconformity, with the Chalk dipping to the right and the Portland and Purbeck Beds dipping to the left. The fallen rocks occurring at beach level are worth exploring and often contain fossil shells.


Can my child less than 4 attend the event?

We strongly advice against taking children under 4, but if the event allows children and leaders agree, then this is possible providing they are under your responsibility and care, and do not use tools or equipment. Please contact us on 01502 725205 (Mon-Fri 8am-3pm) for more information.

Can I book over the phone?

Yes, you can, and we can take card payment, however a waiver must be signed before we can accept your booking. The waiver can be emailed or posted out, but must be returned within one week of the booking. Contact us on: 01502 725205 (Mon-Fri 8am-3pm).

Can I pay on the day?

Sorry, we do not allow anyone to pay on the day, as we cannot provide pre-preparation details on risk assessment, and due to health and safety, places are limited.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

This will greatly help us and speed things up, but leaders will have a list of those attending on the day.

Is my registration ticket transferrable?

Please contact us and we normally try to accommodate this.

I have a question not listed?

Please contact us on 01502 725205 (Mon-Fri 8am-3pm).

What happens if I can’t make it on time or get to the venue?

You need to contact us urgently. If this is within a few days of the event, call us on 01502 725205 (Mon-Fri 8am till 4pm), if it is on the day or a couple of days before, contact the leader in the final confirmation email detailing where to meet and times. We cannot guarenete we can wait for you, but where possible, we will try.

Are toilets nearby?

Most events will not have access to toliets. The best places to find fossils are mostly areas away from built up areas, and tend to be quite remote. There are a few exceptions where toliets are close by, but it is best to presume they wont be available.

Will my friend's hammer and chisels from their tool box be okay to bring?

No, standard tools are made from inferior metal which splinter very easily against rocks. This is both dangerous to yourself and others, and flying metal can cause eye injuries or penetrate the skin. ONLY hammers specifically made for geological use can be used. We offer some to add to your order if you dont have any.

What happens if the event is cancelled?

We try very hard to avoid having to cancel, but if an event needs to be cancelled due to adverse weather conditons or unforeseen circansances, we will notify you immediately, and you will be offered an alternative hunt or date or a refund.