The Fossil Collections of Dorset

The Jurassic Coast has long been a magnet for those interested in the history of marine life entombed in Dorset’s beautiful coastline. Now there are several developments which will help bring this wonderful world to life.


Having watched the progress of the building work from the safety and comfort of the excellent Clavell’s café in Kimmeridge over the past year, we have been intrigued about what might be displayed within the strikingly modern building. Now the Museum of Jurassic Marine Life will finally open its doors on Friday 21st October. The museum will house the remarkable collection of one man’s amazing collection of marine fossils.  Steve Etches, a local Kimmeridge man has complied a comprehensive collection of over 2,500 exhibits ranging from corals, shells and insects to dinosaurs, crocodiles, sharks and flying reptiles. The collection of will be complemented by CGI projections on the ceiling depicting a vision of underwater life some 150 million years ago. For a more hands-on perspective there is a visible workshop which will allow visitors to watch Steve Etches as he cleans and conserves his latest finds.

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At the other end of the Jurassic Coast, the Lyme Regis museum has closed its main doors to start on the construction of the Mary Anning Wing extension. Supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the new, improved and extended museum is due to reopen in June 2017 and will include a new geology gallery telling the story of Mary Anning and Lyme’s fantastic fossils.

Meanwhile fossil walks and Mary Anning walks will continue in Lyme Regis alongside the fossil walks in Charmouth, the two main venue for fossil hunters along the Jurassic Coast. For DIY fossil hunters The Jurassic Coast Fossil Finder is an excellent source of information based on the 1,000 or so fossils to be found on the Jurassic Coast Museums database. Additionally the Natural History Museum has just launched its own app drawing on the combined expertise and knowledge of the Natural History Museum and the British Geological Survey to help identify ancient plant and animal fossils to be found throughout the British Isles.