Highlight: The Ammonite Graveyard

The Ammonite Graveyard
The Ammonite Graveyard. Photo: Dorsetforyou.com

The geology of the Jurassic Coast shows that the period of Earth’s history known as the Triassic was a time of hardship, with deserts stretching across continents. But the Jurassic period, here at least, was a time of plenty. It began 200 million years ago when sea levels rose and transformed the Triassic desert into a shallow tropical sea. With the new marine habitats came a profusion of marine life and many of the animals living at the time are preserved as fossils.

One site in particular shows the potential for our Jurassic rocks to contain a spectacular abundance of fossils – the ammonite pavement. A short walk west along Monmouth Beach at low tide will bring you to a number of limestone ledges, washed clear by the sea. On the surface of one of them are hundreds of large fossilised ammonites. No one really knows why there are so many in this particular layer and no photograph can do it justice – it has to be seen to be believed. If you do visit it is important not to try and collect these ammonites as they are protected.