Friday, 10 April 2015

Gisleham Fossil Quarry

I recently had the chance to visit Suffolk's Gisleham Fossil Quarry, at the southern end of the EE Green building waste dump just outside the village. The village is pronounced "Gizz-l'm" and the locals know the quarry as "the old brickworks site."

Brick kilns at Gisleham

There are some impressive abandoned brick kilns, which Film Suffolk should consider renting out as a film location, something in the steampunk sci-fi post-apocalypse department.

The fossil quarry is a precarious slide down a slope, I'm told the best time to come is after heavy rains, when fossil-bearing fragments are washed down by the rain. I'd brought along some chisels, but it's all stuff you can pull out.

Edge of the quarry

I pulled out some small marine invertebrate fossils (trilobites? Crustaceans?) but they'd flaked away into powder in my pocket by the time I got home. It would require quite a patient trawl to find anything, although small reptiles as well as seashells have been pulled out of Gisleham, as well as some of the world's biggest teeth of the giant shark Megalodon.

Mesozoic sea creature in chalk at Gisleham, on a chunk of chalk too big to fit on a bike, so I left it

There's also a lot of (living) wildlife there, with rabbit holes and a rather obvious fox burrow in the sandy soil. I saw rabbits running around when I arrived, and as I left I saw a large fox out of the corner of my eye scampering around the cliffs - in broad daylight.

Gisleham was a 90-minute bike ride from my base in Dunwich Forest, including a couple of shot stops and a pleasant detour through the Benacre Estate to avoid the A12 road. It would be an easy cycle form Lowestoft of Oulton Broad stations (there's a cycle track from nearby Carlton Colville all the way to Oulton Broad and Lowestoft.) There's a bus at least every two hours to Gisleham Monday-Saturday from Lowestoft, Kessingland or Southwold.

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