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Bracklesham fossils and fossil collecting

Take the B2198 to Bracklesham and East Wittering. The road heads straight to the seafront and into a large car park.
Park here and then walk down to the shore. There are also toilets and a small cafe at the site.
The beach is easy to find and there is parking on the seafront. This has to be one of the most easily accessible locations in the UK and a flat, sandy beach makes it ideal for everyone.
There are no restrictions at this location, but please follow our own code of conduct for all locations.

SZ 80235 96309
50.76083°N, 0.86379°W

Brachiopods, bivalves, gastropods, fish remains, shark teeth.
Fossil Collecting at Bracklesham Bay


There are nearly always people collecting at Bracklesham Bay. Fossils can simply be found washed up on the sand, and you can normally come back with bags full of decent finds, especially sharks’ teeth. During scouring tides, the fossiliferous Bracklesham Formation form the Eocene is exposed and the beach can be covered with ray and sharks’ teeth, and also bivalve shells. Occasionally, you can find corals, but you will definitely find lots of the often overlooked, large, single-celled foraminifera (Nummulites laevigatus).
Where is it

Very High

Fossils at Bracklesham can be found in most conditions, simply lying on the sand of the foreshore. The best conditions are during scouring tides, especially during the spring.


Suitable for children


Bracklesham Bay is the best location in the UK for children to collect fossils. There are no cliffs and there is a sandy beach, shallow water, easy access and fossils found lying on the sand. It is no wonder that so many schools visit every the location every year. However, there has been a recent increase in kite-surfacing at the beach, so care should be taken if this is taking place.


Easy Access


The beach is easy to find and there is parking on the seafront. This has to be one of the most easily accessible locations in the UK and a flat, sandy beach makes it ideal for everyone.


Foreshore


Fossils at Bracklesham Bay can be found simply lying on the sand of the foreshore. The best conditions are during scouring tides, especially during the spring, which expose the clay below beach level. However, you must remember that the Bracklesham Formation is not always exposed on the foreshore and you must visit on a falling tide, as the best time to collect is just before low tide. There are no cliffs here, but the dangers are soft clay during scouring conditions, which can occur during the early spring and early autumn. At these times, it can be easy to get stuck and, consequently, the tide then becomes a danger.


No Restrictions


There are no restrictions at this location, but please follow our own code of conduct for all locations.

Bracklesham Bay
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


Common sense when collecting at all locations should be used and you should always check tide times.


Last updated:  2012
last visited:  2012
Written by:  Alister and Alison Cruickshanks
Edited by:  Jon Trevelyan

Locations similar to Bracklesham

For other similar Eocene locations, you can try Barton-on-Sea or Taddiford Gap in Hampshire, Harwich in Essex, or Herne Bay in Kent, or Nacton, Bognor Regis, Ramsholt, Bawdsey, Maylandsea, Levington, Burnham on Crouch. Isle of Sheppey or Walton-on-Naze which are London Clay Locations, a similar age to Bracklesham. In London Abbey Wood is also a great place for shark's teeth.

At Whitecliff Bay on the IOW, the Bracklesham Beds are also exposed.

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Bracklesham Bay is a popular location for ray and sharks’ teeth, bivalves and gastropods. From the Bracklesham Group, a wide variety of species of shark and molluscs can be found. Fish remains are also common here. Occasionally, you can find corals and you will definitely find the often overlooked, large, single-celled foraminifera (Nummulites laevigatus).

Bracklesham is an ideal location for children and all the family, and is a classic site for fossils. You can simply walk along the beach and pick up fossils in the sand. During scouring conditions, you can wet sieve the Bracklesham Formation, which is exposed along the beach. However, you will need to visit on a retreating tide, preferably one hour before low tide to give enough time for you to have a good look. Even if you don’t find sharks’ teeth, you should at least come away with some nice shells.


Fossils washed from the Bracklesham Beds are found all over the sand

Geology Guide Eocene, 48mya

At Bracklesham Bay, the Bracklesham Beds from the Eocene are exposed below beach level. This gives a plentiful supply of fossils. During scouring conditions, clay and sand formations can be seen exposed on the foreshore. The Bracklesham Group is divided into four beds, which are all present here. Walking east or west from the car park will take you over the beds, which are, from west to east:

 

• The Selsey Sand
• The Marsh Farm Formation
• The Earnley Sand

• The Wittering Formation

These are around 40.5 to 49.5myrs old...[more]


 
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Large bivalves are commonly found sitting on the sand.....[more]

The fossils from Bracklesham Bay are found on the foreshore and all you will need is good eyesight. Hammers and so on are NOT required. However, a trowel with a long handle is especially useful.

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At most locations, you can find microfossils. You only need a small sample of the sand. You then need to wash it in water and sieve using a test sieve. We also sell petri dishes, to help you store your fossils.

We have a wide range of microscopes for sale, you will need a Stereomicroscope 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.

Test Sieves are used when searching for microfossils. Microfossils can be found in many locations, and all you need is a small amount of sample such as clays, sands and shales, or if you have acid, limestone, oolite or chalk.

Our UKGE Store sells Endecotts Test Sieves, which are the highest in accuracy and extremely durable and long lasting. These Test Sieves are fantastic for microfossils. Endecotts Test Sieves come in a variety of sizes, frame material and types, they are certificated to EU Standards.

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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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