Geology: The chalk at Eastbourne is largely from the Turonian stage of the Upper Cretaceous and is highly fossiliferous, being one of the best places for chalk fossils in the UK.
Fossil collecting: The most common fossils at Eastbourne are brachiopods and inoceramid bivalves. However, ammonites can also be found and many of the middle chalk rocks here (the light grey coloured ones) reveal ammonites when split. Additionally, ammonites can be seen in many of the rocks, sometimes broken and worn, but sometimes whole. There is a variety of excellent echinoids, many of which can be found simply lying on the foreshore and with little prepping required, as the sea has done all the hard work. In addition fossils such as sharks teeth and fish scales can be found, as can corals and sponges, the latter of which are quite common. Erosion at Eastbourne in recent years has been so extensive that sea defences are fast changing. There are a number of groynes with steps and large blocks to protect the cliff, but this appears to be making little difference to the rate of erosion along this coastline. Between the groynes, and indeed past the last groyne, you can start to find fossils. However, the best place is from the last groyne to Cow Gap. (Cow gap to Beachy Head is covered in our other guide to Beachy Head.) The best place to look is on the foreshore and at the base of the cliffs. Most of the fossils are from higher beds, so they can only be found in the fallen rocks along the foreshore.If you can see a slightly worn ammonite in a block of chalk, often sectioned by wave action, use a hammer and wide chisel to hit about 1cm away from the fossil (or more if you are unsure) and work your way round. Usually, the ammonite comes out intact with the underside remaining in perfect condition.
Equipment: Most fossils at Eastbourne can be found on the foreshore in fallen rocks or as loose fossils. You will require a hammer and chisel to get some of these out.
Safety: Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used and you should check tide times before going. There are three main dangers are at Eastbourne: 1. Tidal conditions. You must turn before the tide starts to come in. We recommend visiting Eastbourne on a falling tide. 2. Falling debris from the high cliffs. Stay away from the foot of the cliff, especially if hitting rocks, as vibrations from hammer blows can cause debris to fall. Hard hats should always be worn. 3. A slippery foreshore.
Further information: View public discussions and other people's finds, or add your own reports and photos by going to our Discussion Board. In Sussex and Kent, there are many excellent locations for collecting chalk fossils. Newhaven, Seaford, Seven Sisters, Beachy Head, Peacehaven and Eastbourne, Dumpton, Kingsgate, Samphire Hoe, Pegwell Bay, Dover, St Margarets Bay. Read the excellent publications: The Chalk of Sussex and Kent and Fossils of the Chalk.