By Jim Hollands
As a small lad of six I remember exploring Fairlight Cove with my younger brother Robert. We made an amazing discovery, massive footprints in the rock. We raced back to our family picnic spot and dragged dad to his feet. “Come quick” I said “We have found a giant’s footprints!”
Father pondered on the prints we had found, and like all fathers he came up with an answer. “They are dog paw marks made in the sand many years ago. The tides have washed in and out making them bigger and bigger until the sand got harder and harder and is now rock.”
We settled for that answer and I never thought about it again, until last summer when walking under the cliffs at almost the same spot, I saw a couple of chaps chipping at some loose fragments of rock that had fallen from the cliffs on the last series of high tides and storms that batter the Fairlight Cliffs from time to time. They told me they were looking for fossils. They only inspect rock that is well away from the cliffs, there is a strict ban on disturbing the cliff base. Rocks with fossils embedded in them were carefully inspected by the two fossil collectors to see the best way of removing their finds, then with a few deft strokes with their hammers they released the 140 million year old pieces from their captivity and placed them carefully in small tins with cotton wool to keep them safe.
Investigating further I found “Discovering Fossils” on the internet and learned that father was a bit off the mark all those years ago. The ‘enlarged dog paw prints’ were no less than the foot prints of a dinosaur and were about 140 million years old? These prints are now protected and must be respected because of their rarity. Dinosaur prints and fossilised dinosaur bones, teeth etcetera are only found at two places in the British Isles, on the Isle of Wight and here at Hastings (Fairlight).
140 million years is a long time so I don’t expect there are any live dinosaurs in the Hastings area, mind you, you could see a pair strolling down Queens Road at Carnival Time.
For much more detailed information on finding fossils and dinosaur traces try www.discoveringfossils.co.uk/fairlight-fossils.htm.
Picture and information by courtesy of ‘Discovering Fossils’.
“Rye’s Own” May 2008
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