Just after the Lyme Regis shingles and sandy beaches, is the Fossil Beach. Also, known as Monmouth Beach, this approximately 1 mile stretch of pebble beach comes with a twist. The pebbles and rocks are from the Jurassic age and may contain fossils and large ammonites. On some stretches of the beach, the rocks are brimming with ammonites, they show on its surfaces.
Monmouth Beach is a pebble and rock beach stretching approximately 1 mile westwards from the harbour at Lyme Regis, West Dorset to Pinhay Bay, East Devon. It is part of the Jurassic Coast, between Axmouth and Lyme Regis Undercliffs, below Ware Cliffs, and includes Poker’s Pool, Virtle Rock and Chippel Bay.
The beach is named after the Duke of Monmouth who landed here in 1685 in a failed attempt to overthrow his uncle, King James II. Twelve local people were hanged on the beach by the infamous Judge Jeffreys as punishment for the failed rebellion.
Axmouth-Lyme Regis Undercliffs
The Undercliffs form part of the Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site which is famous for geology, fossils and coastal processes.
National Nature Reserve
Monmouth Beach has been identified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (amended). There is a fine of up to £20,000 if a person is found guilty of intentionally or recklessly destroying any of the geologically and physiographical features without reasonable excuse.
What are Ammonites?
Ammonits were shelled sea creatures called cephalopods. These are from around 66 million years ago, from the Jurrasic age. They can be found all around the world. Here on Monmouth Beach, the concentration of ammonites are so high, you can see them exposed on surfaces of rocks as we will see in the photos below. These can be one large ammonite or collection of small ammonites on the same rock. You can learn more about Cephalopods over at the Natural History Museum website.
Famous Among Fossil Hunters
On our way west towards the beach, we can hear and see children and adults hacking away with their hammers, looking to score their own fossil or ammonite finds in those pebbles. The trick is to look for white lines on the pebbles and to split them down those lines. Of course, not all pebbles with white lines will have fossils so you will find split opened pebbles around.
We did see a couple of children with their happy faces, carrying two large palm size pebbles each with evidence ammonites on them. According to the rules, you can only collect loose beach pebbles. And, you cannot dig or hammer into cliffs or rocky ledges without permission. Plus, you must leave the larger ammonites for others to enjoy.
A notice at the entrance to Monmouth Beach says that if you think you have found an unusual or scientifically important fossil, you will need to report this to Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre. We visited the centre to look at the huge collection of fossils which we will feature in our next post. Some of these fossils were dug out as recent as 2020.
Ammonite Pavement and Rocks Photos
Thankfully, those larger ammonites found on big rocks are untouched, and can still seen around. Parts of the beach are also covered by flat rock beds known as Ammonite pavements. These are washed by the waves to reveal partially exposed ammonites and sea creatures.
More Photos of the Visible Ammonites on Rocks
Sourced from the web
What Else is Here
There is a council operated car park near the beach but you will have to share this with residents and guest of the holiday caravans, chalets and beach huts. A bowling green, Lyme Regis Power Boat Club and Boat Building Academy can also be found in the vicinity. For those with their four legged friends, you will be glad to know that Monmouth beach is dog friendly all year round. Just remember to pick up the mess after them.
Ammonite Pavements and Ammonite Rocks
Location: Monmouth Beach, Lyme Regis DT7 3LE