Plant Fossil Wood

Additional images

Top tree of the Fossil Forest

This is probably the most complete tree recovered from the Fossil Forest when it was quarried to reach the Portland Limestone below. The forest existed for a brief period of time before becoming drowned in a saline lagoon. Thick mats of algae grew over the floor of the forest and around the trees, many of which had fallen over. The algae attracted calcium-rich mud which hardened into limestone. As a result, most of the fossil wood is found lying in the soil under a cap of hard limestone. In order to rescue a whole tree, the quarrymen had to recover each piece as they dug through the Fossil Forest.

The tree was presented to Dorset County Museum by Mrs King Warry, the grand-daughter of Mr W White. He was the owner of ‘Trade’ quarry on Portland, where the tree was found, probably around 1825. It was displayed on a house in Main Street, Fortuneswell (now Portland Town Council offices) until 1914/15 (see lower photo).

Find out more on the wood and plants page.

Common name

Plant Fossil Wood

Scientific name

Protocupressinoxylon purbeckensis

Type

Wood & Plants


Strata

Purbeck Limestone Group

Time period

Upper Jurassic

Age

142 million years

Where found

Portland

Found by

Unknown

Museum

Dorset County Museum, Dorchester

Accession number

DCM.G.06688