The end of 2015 was noted for its treacherous storms and flooding; however, the effects of the bad weather proved an unlikely boon for those interested in the past. Adverse weather conditions caused a large section of cliff in the Dorset village of Charmouth to tumble into the sea, revealing hundreds of ancient fossils washed up on the beach.
Fossil hunters from far and wide have been converging onto Charmouth beach since the cliff fall, where a bounty of ammonites, sea molluscs and even old bones have proved to be the ultimate souvenir from this part of the Jurassic Coast. The fossils unearthed from the landslide have, so far, generally been small in size, although a lucky few fossil fiends have uncovered ancient treasures measuring more than two feet.
The cliff fall has been one of the most significant for Charmouth, where more than 320 feet or 1,000 tons of land was lost to the sea. With weather patterns becoming more unpredictable, this may not be the only occurrence of coastal land falling foul of strong elements and being swallowed up by the sea. While this particular landslide is proving to be an exciting event for any budding beachcomber or paleontologist, it is always wise to remember to put safety at the top of the agenda when on the beach, particularly if a cliffside is still unstable.
Fossil hunters in Charmouth are being urged to be cautious when scouring the beach and to keep away from the cliffs, which have become crumbly following the recent deluge of rain. Beachcombers have also been advised to only collect fossils from the beach and not the cliffs or rocks, to wear sensible footwear, and to check the weather forecast and tide times before heading out.