Lyme Regis may be known for fossil hunting but we discovered there was also fun to be had rummaging amongst the nineteenth century debris of a Victorian dump. The Spittles Landfill site was exposed during a slip on the Jurassic Coast in 2008, when it tumbled onto the beach and spilled its wares amongst the prehistoric relics.
Mary started a trend that is still immensely popular today and by the time we arrived at the beach the air was ringing with the tinkle of a thousand hammers. Everyone and their brother had come out to fossil hunt, cracking open stones in search of finds, but it really didn’t matter because there are countless fossils to be had. At first we didn’t really see them, but then as you kneel in the shale turning over stones you notice that the rippled slab of slate-coloured rock beside you is in fact filled with a myriad of tiny curls and swirls. These are the imprints of Promicroceras sp., the most widespread ammonite found in Lyme Regis.
There are numerous rocks with these imprints, if you take some time to adjust your gaze, but many are so soft they crumble away in your hands or have been hacked to lumps like an aging Stilton.
We came to the beach with friends who have found scores of riches on past forays like dinosaur vertebrae, pyrite glittered ammonites, snails, geodes and coprolite (dinosaur poo, often full of fish scales), but few were turning up today so they took us to the landslide area to forage closer to the history of our human detritus. The kids threw themselves into this new adventure and ran about picking up great lumps of colourful glass smelted down in the rubbish dump fires of yore. Shattered crockery, old bottles, rusty locomotive parts, spark plugs, toy soldiers, bits of metal; all are treasures to young kids and we spent an hour or so sifting through it all before searching out lunch with a heavy haul.
Later, sitting at shared bench tables eating hot soup and top quality, delicious bread at The Town Mill Bakery we were told some people had found jewellery, snuffboxes and even a melted nugget of gold among the shale after a big storm. However, after four years of pugnacious winter tempests, the rich finds of the Spittles Landfill have all but washed away. Better get beach combing before it is all gone.
Lunch – Town Mill Bakery, Coombe Street, Lyme Regis, Dorset DT7 Tues-Sunday 8.30-3.30 Tel: 01297 444035
Lyme Regis Museum FREE FOR KIDS Adults £3.95 We prefer to forage on our own but you can go on guided fossil walks for £10 adult £5 children email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fancy Getting Away From It All? (trulyglutenfree.co.uk)