Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Fossil hunting in Brora

"The fossil hunter's hammer is like a torch; illuminating the past..."

The line above came originally from an advert and has lain dormant in my imagination for some years. I can't recall which product was being advertised but as I write it occurs to me that I may  have unwittingly fallen under the advertiser's spell and been guided subconsciously towards their products ever since. Can anyone else remember what the advert was for? If it was for lager, tinned fish or bicycles that would explain a lot.

Guided by the excellent ukfossils.co.uk  website I loaded the van with lunch materials, a geologist's hammer and a cold chisel. Our destination was Brora, just over an hour's drive north of Inverness. The plan was to locate blueish rocks on the beach at the mouth of the Brora River and crack them open to reveal the fossils that have lurked within since the Jurassic period, 160 million or so years ago.

At this time of year when the days are short, the wind is biting and everywhere apart from the coast is encased in snow and ice it's hard to find a suitable outdoor activity for the whole family. This was my first dabble in the sport of fossil hunting and I could easily get a taste for it. It's surprisingly exciting to get to work on a pile of stones, to split them open then carefully inspect the fractured surfaces for hidden jewels. I imagine the gambling enthusiast gets a similar similar rush of excitement when playing fruit machines. Below are pictures of the three most impressive finds.


A small shell, about as wide as a penny.



This one is about the size of a cockle



And finally the prize specimen of the day, an ammonite about 4 cm across.


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3 Comments:

Blogger Toby said...

I had no idea you could go fossil hunting in Brora. I think I'll take Rhiannon up for a look in the next couple of weeks.

20 January 2010 at 20:43  
Blogger Gavin Macfie said...

Have a read of the ukfossils website before you go. There's a few good locations in the area including one on the Black Isle that I'm keen to take a trip to. Give me a shout if you fancy heading out to bash some rocks.

20 January 2010 at 20:49  
Anonymous Colin L said...

That ammonite is a great find on your first foray, I must say. I never found anything so impressive rockhounding about the Bathgate hills with my dad, just a few bivulvates and some coral. We never had as much luck as Mr Wood did there (and if you are ever in Edinburgh his shop is well worth a visit).

21 January 2010 at 00:22  

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