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Grafham Water fossils and fossil collecting

From the A1, take the A14 west for approximately 6.5 to 8km. Then take the exit for Grafham and follow the signs for Grafham Water. After about 5km, you will see a cycle shop and car park on your right, where you can park.
Go to the foreshore and proceed to your right onto the beach.
This is a SSSI, but this mainly relates to wetland birds (which are well worth looking at). Therefore, permission to search the shoreline should be sought from The Wildlife Trust and Anglian Water (by telephone). However, it is unlikely that you will be refused so long as you call.

GRID REF: 52.29168°N, 0.31933°W

Ammonites, Belemnites, Crinoids, Brachiopods, Bivalves, Reptile remains.
Fossil Collecting at Grafham Water


Grafham Water was formally a shallow valley, now turned into a large lake, with water sports and a nature reserve. Today, plentiful fossils can be found along the banks of the lake and, during summer months when the water level is at its lowest, ammonites, belemnites and much, much more can be collected.
Where is it

Good

 

This location is highly productive. The best time to collect is during the summer, when water levels are at their lowest.


Suitable for Children

 

If you get bored of fossil hunting, this site is excellent for the family, as there are several nature trails that can be hiked or cycled, if you rent a bike from the cycle shop. This site also has a playground, so bring a picnic. Although this location is suitable for families and children, we highly recommend that children are supervised at all times, as this is a large body of water.


Good Access

 

This location is very easy to access and has a good car park. There are lots of things to do and see in the area, including walks and a picnic area.


Reservoir embankments

 

This lake was once a large valley, now turned into a nature reserve, with water sports on the reservoir. Fossils can be found on the banks, especially during the summer, when water is lowest.


SSSI

 

There are restrictions on collecting. This is a SSSI, but this mainly relates to wetland birds (which are well worth looking at). Therefore, permission to search the shoreline should be sought from The Wildlife Trust and Anglian Water (by telephone). However, it is unlikely that you will be refused so long as you call.

This location is a reservoir and wherever there is water, there is risk. Common sense should be used when visiting.


Last updated:  2008
last visited:  2004
Written by:  Vic and Amanda Parrish
Edited by:  Jon Trevelyan



Grafham Water is a bit of an unpredictable location. Sometimes you can come away with nothing and, at other times, buckets full. Much depends on beach conditions. However, you don’t need any tools to collect fossils from this site.


Other Locations similar to Grafham

Other locations where fossils can be found in the Oxford Clay are, Kings Dyke and Yaxley in the Cambridgeshire region, or in Dorset, try Weymouth, Bowleaze Cove. In North Scotland you can also try Brora which also has Oxford Clay. In Yorkshire, you can try Cayton Bay. Gristhorpe.

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Keep on the lookout for ammonites in the exposed Oxford Clay and do not forget to check out the banks of Boulder Clay. However, some of the most fossiliferous rock will only be exposed when the water levels are low.
At Grafham Water, ammonites and belemnites are by far the most common finds, but a wide range of shells can also be found, along with crinoid stems and Gryphaea. If you are very lucky, you can find reptile or fish remains. In addition, crocodile remains can also be found.

The best time to look is when the water level is at its lowest. Search the foreshore and banks and you will see Oxford Clay. Fossils are also revealed after downpours of rain, during summer months. Collecting has been poor at this site during years with above average rainfall, but very good in the months following drought. Keep an eye on water restrictions - if you hear of local 'hose pipe bans', then head in Grafham Water’s direction.


Fossils exposed in the Oxford Clay

Geology Guide Jurassic, 160mya

At Grafham Water, the Boulder Clay overlies the Oxford Clay and it is in the Oxford Clay where most of the fossils are found - the clay is extremely rich in fossils. This has been reclassified and now falls within the Peterborough Formation. It is mainly brownish-grey, fissile, organic-rich (bituminous) mudstones, with a shelly fauna dominated by crushed aragonitic ammonites and bivalves. There are also subordinate beds of pale-medium grey, blocky mudstone, with several bands of cement stone nodules/concretions. The basal beds are commonly silty, with shell beds rich in the bivalve, Gryphaea...[more]

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Fossils from Grafham Water...[more]

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We sell a wide range of geological tools from our online store. These include hammers, chisels, and picks.

We also sell starter packs with everything you need to start fossil collecting.

Our online store includes books and publications on fossils and geology, and a range of geological maps on the East Mersea area.

We have over 10,000 items for sale, covering almost every aspect of geology and fossils.

At Grafham Water, you can find small teeth from the Oxford Clay. We recommend taking samples of clay and then leaving the samples in water for a few weeks to break down. You can then wet sieve and examine the remaining contents using a microscope.

We have a wide range of microscopes for sale, you will need a Stereo microscope 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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