UK Fossils -

Hastings fossil collecting (Sussex)

Fossil collecting at Hastings

Hastings is one of the only places outside of the Isle of Wight where dinosaur bones can be found and this popular and important site has yielded some important finds over the years. Fish, shark, plant, reptile remains, bivalves and gastropods can also be collected. Keep a look out for dinosaur footprints.

The cliffs at Hastings are best accessed from the large car park at ‘Rock-A-Nore’. Simply follow the Hastings seafront eastwards and head towards the ‘Old Town’. This is also the road to the well-known fishing tackle shops. Nearby, there are toilets and several food outlets/shops. You will pass a sea life centre and a fisherman’s museum. Continue to the end of the large car park, where you will have to pay to park. Access to the beach appears to be blocked off with a bar put across what once was a footpath to the beach. This is for safety reasons, since the old concrete ramp and steps down have become badly eroded. You can still access the beach safely by climbing over the bar and descending some concrete blocks. However, as this is no longer an official access point, this is entirely at your own risk.

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.

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Fossils - The most common finds are fish, shark, crocodile and dinosaur remains, plants and molluscs
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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.

Stone Tumblers

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. We also sell petri dishes, to help you store your fossils.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

Test Sieves are used when searching for microfossils. 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 and Impact Test Sieves, these laboratory sieves are highly accurate and extremely durable. These Test sieves are fantastic for microfossils. Test Sieves come in a variety of sizes, frame material and types, they are certificated to EU Standards.