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Portland Bill fossils and fossil collecting

Being the island’s main attraction, accessing it is very easy. Simply follow the main road signposted to Portland Bill, or 'The Bill of Portland' as written on some maps.
There is car park, but as it is privately owned and you will need to pay to park there. However, toilets are provided on site, and there is a museum and cafe, together with an excellent pub.
Walking from the car park, there are plenty of rocks that contain fossil oysters and other shells. West of the lighthouse, a raised beach can be examined that contains a range of Mesozoic rocks, as well as granite, bunter and quartzite pebbles.

GRID REF: 50.51458°N, 2.45826°W

Map of Dorset and Portland Bill
bivalves, oysters, trace fossils
Fossil Collecting at Portland Bill


Portland Bill is the island’s main attraction and has rocks scattered around that contain fossils. They are not very well preserved and only oysters and bivalves can be found, along with trace fossils. However, it is a nice location for a short visit.
Where is it

Very Low

 

Fossils at Portland Bill are not common and those that can be found are poorly preserved. Most of the fossils are oysters and other molluscs, which are from the Portland Beds.


Suitable for Children

 

Portland Bill is suitable for children and toilets are provided on site.


Very Good Access

 

Access to Portland Bill is very good, because it is the main attraction on the island and is therefore easy to find.


Disused Quarry, Rocks

 

Fossils are mostly seen in the rocks lying around from the disused quarry and in the quarry waste. They are most frequently found in the piles of rocks around this area. However, you should photograph rather than collect them, because this is private land and collecting is prohibited, and others should be given the opportunity to see and enjoy them.


Private - No Collecting

 

Portland Bill is privately owned, and collecting, hammering and taking samples is not permitted.

We do recommend leaving the fossils in the rocks for others to view and photograph.

Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used and prior knowledge of tide times is essential if exploring the foreshore at Portland Bill. The sea often reaches the base of the cliffs, so you could become cut off.


Portland Bill
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


Accommodation

 

Seaview

Family run bed & breakfast, comfortable non-smoking accommodation with tea & coffee making facilities and networked & wireless broadband in all rooms. Open all year. Private parking.

151 Weston Street, Portland, DT52DG
Tel: 01305 821573

If you would like to advertise on this page, please 'contact us'.
£10/Year or 'FREE' for return links from accommodation website pages.


Last updated:  2008
last visited:  2008
Written by:  Alister and Alison Cruickshanks
Edited by:  Jon Trevelyan





This is private land. Therefore, the best bit of equipment to take is a camera to photograph rather than collect the fossils.

Locations similar to Portland Bill

For other locations with Portland Stone, try Dancing Ledge, Freshwater Bay, Perryfield Quarry, Church Ope Cove, or West Weare in Dorset

More Guides

Location Photos
        
Kimmeridge Clay and Portland Stone at Portland Bill

Fossil Collecting
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The quarry is private, so collecting, hammering and taking samples is not permitted. However, within the rocks, scattered around the lighthouse area, you can see the burrows of animals (trace fossils), algae traces, bivalves and oysters, which are all common. We recommend photographing these and certainly do not recommend trying to remove them.

Brachiopods are the most common fossil at Portland Bill
Bivalves are the most common fossil at Portland Bill

Look out for trace fossils at Portland Bill, such as these burrows
Look out for trace fossils at Portland Bill, such as these algae marks

This ammonite fragment can be seen in the cliff face at Portland Bill
Oysters are also very common in the Portland Beds

Geology Guide
Jurassic, 145mya

At the top of the cliffs at Portland Bill are the Purbeck beds. These are Cretaceous in age and are part of the Lulworth Formation. Below these are the Portland Beds, from the Cherty Member. Rocks from the Basal Shell Bed can also be seen in blocks fallen from the cliff. These are Jurassic in age.

West of the lighthouse, a raised beach can be examined with Mesozoic rocks, as well as granite, bunter and quartzite pebbles (from Budleigh Salterton). This is known as the 'Portland Raised Beach'. Fossils can also be found here, as many of the rocks and pebbles are from the Portland Stone and Purbeck Beds. The latter now tend to be covered in rubble, but once made up the top most part of the quarry.....[more]

Basal Shell Bed from the Portland Beds of Portland Bill

Stone Tumblers
Microscopes
Test Sieves for Microfossils

If you are interested in fossil collecting, then you may also be interested in a stone tumbler (Lapidary). You can polish stones and rocks from the beach which will look fantastic polished using a stone tumbler.

You can polish rough rock and beach glass whilst collecting fossils, on those days where you come back empty handed. These are all high quality machines to give a professional finish to your samples. They can even be used for amber and fossils.

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. Once the sand is processed, you can then view the contents using a microscope.

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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(C)opyright 2008 - UKGE Limited, UK Fossils Network and Deposits Magazine, all rights reserved.
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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