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Hornsea fossils and fossil collecting

Head to Hornsea, and at the South end of the town, you will see signs to the beach. Follow the road, to a large free car park.
From here, follow the path to the promenade. There is also some parking along the promenade. Walk South to find steps to the beach.
Keep going, passing all the old sea defences, now destroyed by the sea, over some old steps and round the corner. Once you pass the bend, you will see for yourself how bad erosion is along this coastline!
Access may change without notice, due to coastal erosion.

GRID REF: TA 31633 31510

Ammonites, Belemnites, Molluscs, Echinoids, Reptile Remains, Corals, Trace Fossils
Fossil Collecting at Hornsea

This location is constantly being eroded by the sea, and a large number of rocks can be seen all over the beach to look through. This site is one of the best along the Holderness Coastline to collect fossils, with plenty of fresh material after every tide.
Where is it

Very Good


Due to the rapid erosion along this coastline, fresh material is always been washed out, and therefore you always have a good chance of making some nice finds.

Not for Children


This location is not suitable for children, the beach is full of old defences of past attempts to stop the sea, these are dangerous and makes access sometimes difficult. Once you get round the corner, you will see the cliffs are regularly hit by the sea.

Fair access


Free parking along the promenade, but please be aware that on the beach is a large number of past sea defences which you have to climb round. You can immediately start finding fossils as soon as you enter the beach.

Cliffs and Foreshore

You can find fossils in the scree, foreshore exposure and in the cliff face. The sea often washes out fresh material, so there is always plenty to look through.


Often, especially after high tides, the sea will sieve the clay for you, taking all of the fine clay material away, and dumping all the rocks and fossils along the foreshore, making it easy pickings for fossil hunters. The best fossils are found by splitting rocks.

No Restrictions


There are no restrictions at this location, but you should always collect sensible and safely, please see our code of conduct below.


This location is on old MOD land, parking is free at the top of the cliff.

Common sense when collecting at all locations should be taken. The Holderness coastline and especially the area at Hornsea, has strong currents. The sea often reaches the base of the cliff and this location is the most dangerous of all those in Holderness, as this area has extremely rapid erosion. Please only visit on a falling tide. Access can vary due to the erosion, so please only access locations that are safe to get down, but also safe to get back up again.

Last updated:  2010
last visited:  2010
Written by:  Alister Cruickshanks

Other Locations similar to Hornsea

In North Yorkshire, Reighton Gap and Cayton Bay also have Boulder Clay, but the best place for Boulder Clay fossils is the whole coastline South of Bridlington to Easington, known as the Holderness Coastline.


Due to the rapid erosion along that part of the coast, access is always changing. But locations of Mappleton, Easington, Tunstall, Ulrome, Withernsea and Tunstall are accessible.


If you enjoy collecting from Boulder Clay why not try the Suffolk Coast. There are plenty of locations to visit including, Happisburgh, Pakefield, Gisleham Quarry, or Corton.

A pick is handy for the clay, but generally, all you need is a good eye. Remember to wrap your finds. A hammer may also come in handy to break any rocks. Trainers or walking boots will be fine, unless you are visiting after exceptionally high tides, where the clay may be quite sticky on the beach.

Location Photos

Fossil Collecting
Your Reports

The Holderness Coastline is more famously known for its rapid erosion, and as such, the topic for many school projects in geography lessons. Attempts to slow down the rapid rate of erosion have failed, and in some cases made the situation much worse. Due to this erosion, access is only possible in some locations.

At Hornsea, the cliffs are currently being eroded more than anywhere else along this coastline, so there are many more rocks to look through on the beach. These rapid erosion rates makes this area an excellent place to regularly collect fossils, knowing that almost every time you visit, fresh material will be available to search through.

The fossils are erratic's, in other words, they do not come from the actual deposits that they are found in. The fossils were brought down during the last ice age, dragged from the North trapped in giant ice sheets and dumped along the Holderness Coastline. You can find almost anything from the Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks of Yorkshire and also a number of Carboniferous rocks. Fossils include ammonites, belemnites, echinoids, corals and molluscs, being the most common, but also reptile remains if you are luckily. Whilst this makes it more exciting, you can never fully date these fossils as it is impossible to tell exactly what bed they are from.

Search the scree, slipped material and foreshore for fossils. Often the sea will do most of the work for you, acting like a giant sieve, and dropping all the fossils along the foreshore. The fossils can be well hidden, trapped in the clay and around rocks. Some of the best fossils are inside the rocks, so it is ideal to take a hammer to break these rocks. Look for the signs of fossil evidence. For example, there are a number of rocks full of worn ammonites on the outside. If you split these rocks using a splitting chisel, you will find many complete ammonites in excellent condition inside!

The boulder clay at Hornsea

Geology Guide Quarternary, (Erratics)

Hornsea is part of the Holderness Coastline, and due to its rapid erosion rates, is often the subject for study in school geography lessons. Holderness is underlain by Cretaceous Chalk but along this coastline, it is so deeply buried beneath the glacial deposits that it is never exposed on the beach.

The cliffs are dominated by deposits of till and boulder clays deposited during the Devensian glaciation period (Pleistocene age). Within these deposits, you will find many erratics, and it is these that contain the Jurassic, Carboniferous and Cretaceous fossils....[more]

More Guides

Jurassic ammonites ...[more]

Stone Tumblers
Geological Tools

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.

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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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