Scotland is renowned for its beautiful landscapes and amazing wildlife, but what many people don’t realise is that Scotland is home to some of the oldest fossils in the world.
You don’t have to be a professional to hunt for fossils. Hours of family fun can be had whilst exploring the beautiful Scottish coastline, searching for the imprints of animals that lived before us. If you fancy a day of fossil hunting in Scotland, here are some great places to start.
Located 30 minutes from Grannie’s Heilan’ Hame Holiday Park, Brora is split into two parts, with the River Brora running through the middle of the village. The north side of the river is surrounded by a golden sandy beach, which is the best place to head to if you’re searching for fossils. The rocks at Brora date back to the Jurassic period, and it’s one of the only locations in mainland Scotland where you can find ammonite shells and reptile fossils.
Since there are no cliffs at Brora, all the fossils here come from rocks which are deposited from the river. Therefore, it’s best to hunt for fossils around the mouth of the river after a heavy rainstorm, or when the seas have been particularly rough.
Video sourced from A Mac
Fossil hunting aside, Brora’s unspoilt beach is also perfect for wildlife watching. Dolphins, minke whales and seals make regular appearances along the shore, so keep an eye on the water as well as the rocks. Brora is also known for its excellent golf courses and the river is great for salmon fishing.
Another well-known hotspot for fossil hunting in the south of Scotland is Carsethorn Beach; a magnificent stretch of sand surrounded by wild and beautiful scenery.
Video sourced from John Dewar
During the 18th and 19th centuries, this tranquil coastal village was unusually busy with ships sailing to Liverpool, Ireland and the Isle of Man. Close to the nature reserve, at low tides the beach provides the perfect conditions for fossil hunting.
As well as fossil hunting, Carsethorn Beach is popular with families and there are many tiny rockpools for little ones to paddle in at low tide. Carsethorn Beach is only 10 minutes from Southerness Holiday Park, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
Just over 20 minutes away from Grannie’s Heilan’ Hame Holiday Park, Dunrobin’s rocky beach is a goldmine for fossil hunters. Some of the discoveries made over the years have included ferns and brachiopods, which are more commonly known by their shell shape. Although most of the rocks in this area are Triassic, there are some Jurassic ones to be found too.
Video sourced from Peaceful Warrior
As well as being an excellent place for fossil hunting, the area of forest around Dunrobin Castle is home to many different species of wildlife, including deer and beavers. The fairy-tale style castle is also a great day out for all the family, and is open from 1st April until 15th October.
Sitting on the Ayrshire Coast just over 20 miles south of Ayr is Girvan, renowned for its sandy beach, boat trips, and the many cafés and restaurants which surround the bay.
Despite being best-known as a good spot for fishing, there are many areas in Girvan which are also great for fossil hunting, including Ardwell Bay, Kennedy’s Pass, and Woodland Bay; the most popular spot for finding fossils.
Video sourced from Lkdwn Aerial Videography
Just over 30 minutes from Sundrum Castle Holiday Park, at Woodland Bay you can find some of the oldest fossils in Scotland. However, this site is classed as a Special Site of Scientific Interest, meaning that while you are welcome to visit the site, you cannot hammer the bedrock.
Girvan beach has excellent facilities, including a car park, toilets and a café where you can take a break from fossil hunting. If you head inland in Girvan, you’ll also find beautiful green hills, with plenty of walking trails in Carrick Forest.
If you know of any other fossil hunting hotspots in Scotland, we’d love to hear about them on our Twitter page.