Fossil wood exposed on the outer surface of a boulder of Lias limestone on Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK on the Jurassic Coast (1a)

As you walk along Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis in Dorset, hopping from one boulder to the next, you might see strange brown markings on some of the larger stones. Although not as spectacular as some of the finds recorded from this beach, a closer look will reveal that, in some cases,  these are the fossilised remains of pieces of wood. Their presence demonstrates that the rock was formed in seas that were not too far from land. Some pieces have been discovered with the fossilised remains of marine invertebrate animals still attached to the undersurface – showing that the wood was free floating for a while before settling in the sediments.

In this post, three such boulders of blue-grey Lias limestone containing this dark brown textured petrified wood (or lignite) are shown – together with close-up images of the peculiar texture and pattern of the preserved timber.

For more information about the other incredible types of fossils that have been found on this beach, see Ian West’s website at http://www.soton.ac.uk/~imw/liasfos.htm.

Detail of fossil wood exposed on the outer surface of a boulder of Lias limestone on Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK on the Jurassic Coast (1b)

Close-up of fossil wood texture exposed on the outer surface of a boulder of Lias limestone on Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK on the Jurassic Coast (1c)

Fossil wood exposed on the outer surface of a boulder of Lias limestone on Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK on the Jurassic Coast (2a)

Close-up of fossil wood texture exposed on the outer surface of a boulder of Lias limestone on Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK on the Jurassic Coast (2b)

Close-up of fossil wood texture exposed on the outer surface of a boulder of Lias limestone on Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK on the Jurassic Coast (2c)

Fossil wood exposed on the outer surface of a boulder of Lias limestone on Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK on the Jurassic Coast (3a)

Close-up of fossil wood texture exposed on the outer surface of a boulder of Lias limestone on Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK on the Jurassic Coast (3b)

Close-up of fossil wood texture exposed on the outer surface of a boulder of Lias limestone on Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK on the Jurassic Coast (3c)

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011

All Rights Reserved

7 Replies to “Fossil wood at Lyme Regis”

  1. Thanks, Lis. I think it’s fascinating that driftwood gets fossilised. I wonder, in the far distant future, if there will be fossilised plastic rubbish from today’s seashore strandlines.

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  2. Silicified wood is really a wonder.
    The fossil forest just slightly east from Lulworth Cove is a surreal place. Better still because it’s so rare to see anyone else there.

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  3. I must put a visit to the Lulworth fossil forest on my ‘to do’ list again. I did try to get there once on a winter’s day but the weather was so atrocious I had to beat a retreat down the hillside to the village.

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  4. Hi Jessica – what I find extraordinary is that some of these samples of wood still feel like wood and sometimes are friable and wood like rather that hard coloured stone. I have visited the Lulworth fossil forest many times – firstly 55 years ago – I am saddened to hear that many of the fossilized trunks have fallen victim to visitors chipping off pieces. I recall there was a huge trunk several feet in diameter and 10 or more feet long laying on the surface. I am told its no longer there – any Idea what happened to it? Was it removed to a museum?

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  5. The fossil wood in my pictures is definitely hard and stone-like.If the piece you found is still crumbly and wood-like then maybe it is from a much more recent geological formation than Dorset’s Jurassic strata. Quaternary deposits often contain shells, for example, that seemingly remain unaltered and not mineralised. They look just like ordinary modern shells but are cemented into earlier geological contexts. Perhaps the same is true for wood, and this could account for the condition of your specimen. I do not know. It might be a good idea to consult an expert at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester, where I seem to recall there are specimens of fossil wood on display. If the tree trunk from Lulworth was removed to a museum, then Dorset County Museum (http://www.dorsetcountymuseum.org/) would be the best place to look for it.

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