Geology: The high sandstone cliffs at Rock-A-Nore are part of the Upper Ashdown Formation and are overlain by shales and sandstones from the Wadhurst Clay. These are from the Wealden Group from the Valanginian Age of the Lower Cretaceous. The Ashdown formation is split into two parts, with the majority of the cliff at Rock-A-Nore made up of the Ashdown Sandstone, but, as you walk towards Ecclesbourne Glen (where there is a large waterfall), the Fairlight Clay is exposed in the lower part of the cliff and foreshore.
Fossil collecting: There is a wide variety of fossils to be found at Hastings, from dinosaur bones (mostly fragments) to complete fish. Small teeth are quite common, especially sharks’ teeth, such as Hybodus. The most common fish is Scheenstia, the scales of which can be found in the rocks and clay. Keep an eye open for dinosaur footprints, the most common being from Iguanodon. These are quite hard to find, but look for three indentations, where it looks as if something has pressed into the soft rock. In addition, you can find crocodile bones and teeth (other reptile remains have also been found here), a number of different bivalves and gastropods, and a few varieties of plants (especially Equisetites, which is a horsetail). Success at Hastings is often subject to beach conditions. The ideal time to visit is after exceptional high tides and storms. A good scour will clear away the shingle and allow you to search the foreshore for bones, shells, teeth and plants. Fossils can generally be found anywhere along the foreshore. You should search around the areas of clay and examine the rocks, because most of the bones and fish remains are found in these hard blocks. Many small teeth can be collected from the clay, especially at Rock-A-Nore itself. Search in the clay and mud of the scree slopes, especially after heavy rain. In these conditions, fossils are washed out and often just waiting to be picked up.
Equipment: Many fossils can be found on the foreshore and in the scree slopes, but the best fossils are normally found in the hard rocks on the beach. For this reason, you will need to bring a hammer and chisel to extract them.
Safety: As always, common sense when collecting should be used and you should check tide times before going, as the sea always reaches the base of the cliff at high tide. Note that many people each year are cut off by the tide. The other important thing to note is the danger of falling debris from the high cliffs. Stay away from the foot of the cliff and, if you are breaking rocks, do so well away from the cliff, as hammer vibrations can cause debris to fall. Hard hats should be worn.
Further information: View public discussions and other people's finds, or add your own reports and photos by going to our Discussion Board. For other similar locations, try nearby Bexhill, and Cooden. You can also collect from Fairlight, a similar age and just up the coast. Looking for more good fossil hunting trips? Why not try the following locations which are all very good for finding fossils... Whitby, Bracklesham, Kettleness, Eastbourne, Hope, Staithes. Quantoxhead, Fishguard, Abereiddy, Whitehaven, Aust, Hunstanton, Read the excellent publications: Early Cretaceous Environments of the Weald.