Fossil collecting with Hastings Battleaxe

Yes, fossils. One of the many odd things that has interested Hastings Battleaxe at various stages in her life. The cliffs and beaches round here, and up to Fairlight, are apparently an interesting fossil hunting area, particularly for dinosaur bones.
     I am reminded of this because of the recent large rock fall at Rock a Nore. Funnily enough, we were

Rock fall at Hastings – the aftermath

in the car park nearby only half an hour before it happened, looking at the enormous waves.
     The picture of the aftermath shows a large area of new cliff/debris exposed, which presumably will now be a mecca for fossil hunters. Rather them than me until the sea dies down a bit after the stormy weather. Those big cracks in the rock look a bit off-putting too. Presumably, by the time Mrs sensible Battleaxe ventures out there, there won’t be a shred left uncollected by the risk takers.. Load of coprolites, if you ask me.
     Still, it astonishes me all these reports of foolish people going in to the sea/taking photos on jetties/taking their kids for walks along wave-tossed paths etc. What do they think they are doing? It just means the poor coastguards and life-boat persons have to risk their lives to rescue them.
     When I was at school I was given the nickname ‘Fossil’ after a geography field trip to Dorset. My friends were interested in finding ways of sneaking out of our hostel in Swanage in search of Boys, illicit fags and booze.. I was interested in finding ways to sneak back to Dancing Ledge or Kimmeridge Bay, in search of fossils. I did actually find a few shapeless looking unidentifiable lumps, so in hindsight, I was probably better off – my friends found no boys, lumpish or otherwise.
     Hmm, thinks, that is a possible plot for a story. Solitary nerd is left behind by her classmates who have set forth, shrieking and jeering, plastered with illicit makeup, in search of adventure. Nerd confides her passion for fossils to Geography teacher, who happens to be young, male, handsome, unhappily married – together they go to the beach, where after finding several ammonites, forbidden passion blazes behind the rocks. Nerd returns, smug, to find classmates have returned after fruitless outing. I hasten to add real life was nothing like that, our geography teachers were two elderly unmarried ladies.
     I have never been interested in serious fossil hunting with hammers, hacking things out of the cliff, or breaking rocks, but I do enjoy beach combing. These days, I am particularly fond of fossilised sea urchins, and have picked up several locally. Although two of mine came from Hastings – one found during a low-tide walk to visit the wreck of the Amsterdam – beaches near chalk cliffs are best, because the fossils are preserved in flint. They date from the Cretaceous period – around 100 million years ago.

Fossil sea urchins and a bone

     These objects have appealed to humans since the earliest days of history – they are called variously, fairy loaves, shepherd’s crowns, pixies’ helmets and thunder stones. Ancient people used to bury their dead with them, and more recently they were kept in houses as good-luck charms against witchcraft, and to protect the house from being struck by lightening. Perhaps I ought to get the book referred to in this article.
    Here is a picture of my sea urchin fossils, together with what is clearly a fossilised bone. I found the bone on Hastings beach. Heaven knows what creature it comes from.
      I notice that this time last year I was blogging about fossils and submerged forests at Pett Level. Odd.
     Ah well, that’s it now…. Philosopher has just come in and brought me a cup of tea and the last of the Christmas cake. I have eaten it, and gnawed the very last bit of marzipan off the icing. I said yesterday that once that was eaten, the New Year regime of austerity and healthy living begins…..
     New year, new dawn. Look at these lovely sunrise pictures taken from our house yesterday.

Sunrise, 4.01.14

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Comments from Google+