A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast


By Steve Snowball and Craig Chivers

This newly published guide is another near-perfect fossil book from Siri Scientific Press, who are rapidly becoming my favourite publisher of esoteric palaeontology. This one is perhaps less arcane, as it deals with an area of Britain that has been extensively covered by various authors with varying degrees of success.

For example, I would heartily recommend PalAss’s Field Guide to Fossils: No. 13 – Fossils from the Lower Lias of the Dorset Coast, which could profitably be read in conjunction with this book. However, as a guide for amateurs on the geology, history of collecting and palaeontology of this part of the British coast, this guide is hard to beat.

A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast covers only the western part of World Heritage Site – the Jurassic Coast – up to the border with Devon. Therefore, it covers the succession from the Upper Triassic to the Middle Jurassic, with excursion guides to many of the best places to visit to collect (for example, Stonebarrow, Golden Cap, Thorncombe Beacon and Eype, to name but a few).

The relevant geological succession is described in sufficient detail to be both interesting and informative, and it also covers the necessary tools, equipment and preparation for success in this hobby. However, best of all are the numerous full-colour photos of the fossils themselves, to allow identification, and the beautiful artistic interpretations of what the Triassic and Jurassic seas may have looked like by Andreas Kurpisz.

Craig Chivers lives and works on the Jurassic Coast and is renowned for his fossil preparation, including of many important finds. This has involved helping in the preparation of the Jurassic Welsh theropod – Dracoraptor hanigani – which is now displayed in National Museum Wales. Steve Snowball has been collecting fossils since he was small and is now involved in the management of UKAFH, leading many field events across Britain. He  and Craig Chapman are the authors of A Guide to Fossil Collecting in England and Wales, which is also published by Siri Scientific Press.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who has been to West Dorset to collect fossils or any who is intending to go. It is also worth owning just to admire the pictures.

A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast by Steve Snowball and Craig Chivers, Siri Scientific Press, Manchester (2018), 222 pages (paperback), ISBN: 9780995749665

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