You may be surprised to learn that lions, elephants and hippo’s were once commonplace roaming this Yorkshire countryside – that was about 60,000 years ago and dinosaurs were long gone. But how do we know all this? Fossils of course!
When Victorian quarrymen stumbled across a cave full of old bones in a Kirkdale valley some 12 miles from Crag House Farm, secrets of the area were released. The cave turned out to have been the ancient lair of Hyena’s and contained bones of 21 different types of tropical animal. The finds didn’t stop there, the walls and roof of the cave were made up of a fossil coral reef formed within the limestone rock 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period. You can see some of these finds and lots more too at the newly opened ‘Yorkshire’s Jurassic World exhibition’ at York Museum
Virtually all the rocks of the North York Moors National Park were formed during the Jurassic period – does this make it a Jurassic Park? The oldest Jurassic rocks formed 200 million years ago are shale and limestone. The Yorkshire sandstones from 150 million years ago were once the jurassic beaches where dinosaurs walked and unbelievably their footprints can still be seen at certain sites such as Scalby Mill, Saltwick Bay and Goathland. Within these rocks are held the unexposed secrets of a life that we can barely imagine, when you tap open an ammonite nodule and become the first pair of eyes to see that creature you’ll be hooked on fossils.
The best place to find fossils is along the beautiful coastline. Saltburn, Staithes, Runswick Bay, Sandsend, Saltwick Bay, Robin Hoods Bay, Boggle Hole, Ravenscar, Scarborough, exciting names bursting with new finds and adventure. A great time to explore is in the autumn and winter after a storm when high winds, waves and rain have moved the cliff faces and exposed a fresh seam of treasure and washed a lot of it onto the beach. Hunt along the beach among the stones and shingle along and below the high tide mark. Once you’ve got your eye in you’ll be away. If you are a beginner and would like to know your ammonites from your belemnites, what to look for and where they came from, click here for a good place to start.
Some folk are simply happy to hunt, explore and discover on their own but if you feel that you would like some help and expertise by your side then you’re in luck. Will Watts runs a fabulous and fun company called Hidden Horizon’s which specialises in showing groups of people of any age the delights of this wondrous Jurassic world around us and we highly recommend this experience, do check his story from The Guardian newspaper here and a fabulous little 4 minute video to inspire you here.
Here’s some modern history too! Sea glass is an extraordinarily beautiful form of glass erosion thrown up onto our beaches. Real gems.
Please be tide aware. Check the tide times before you visit and leave as the tide starts to come in.
After you’ve done your treasure hunting there is still lots more to see and do around the Moors and Coast. Read what our Fossil hunting family had to say about their glorious North York Moors holiday from Crag House Farm Barns.