The fossil forest at East Lulworth is the best example to be found anywhere on the Jurassic Coast. The area lies within the MOD’s Lulworth Firing Range, but visitors are free to explore when the range walks are open to the public. If you look carefully in this area you may also find some fossilised ripple marks from an ancient sea floor.
140 million years ago there were forests growing in the area that is now Lulworth. The sea levels had lowered allowing soil to form which became colonized by plants and trees. Evidence of this remains today in the layer the Purbeck Beds consisting of the fossilized soil, “Dirt Bed”. Over time the sea levels rose, flooding the forest floor. Rings of fossilized algae that grew around the base of the trees and fallen trunks are often all that remain, but the Lulworth Heritage Centre does have some fossilized wood on display.
Fossil Forest Ripples
Evidence of an ancient seabed can be found amongst the roots of the Fossil Forest in the form of ripples that have been frozen in time.
Coastal Features: The Great Unconformity and The Cretaceous Blanket
The Great Unconformity and The Cretaceous Blanket
The sediments which make up the Jurassic Coastline were deposited in the following order, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous, with the oldest rock, the Triassic sitting at the at the bottom of the pile.
Part way through the Early Cretaceous Period the sea levels dropped and the layers of rock were tilted to the East by earth movements. Overtime the exposed rocks were eroded before sea levels rose again, depositing more Cretaceous sediments.
The combined tilting and erosion explains why the Jurassic Period is completely missing in East Devon and why areas of cliff all along the coastline are capped with Cretaceous rocks which are millions of years younger than the sediments laying directly beneath them.
Coastal Visitor Centre
Lulworth Heritage Coast Centre
Town/Village or Area:
Tourist Info Centres
in this Area: Bindon Hill
The wildlife living on the chalky soil of Bindon Hill is exceptionally rich. It is home to a host of plants and animals, a great place to see butterflies and moths.
Interest: MOD Lulworth Firing Range and Walking, Bindon Hill Fort
Bindon Hill Fort
The earthworks of an Iron Age hill fort follow the summit of Bindon Hill for 1 ¼ miles.
At 168 meters above sea level, it offers far reaching views across the Lulworth coastline.
MOD Lulworth Firing Range and Walking
The Lulworth Firing Range belongs to the Ministry of Defence. Everything from rifles, machine guns and tanks use the area which stretches along the coastline from Lulworth to Kimmeridge. Red flags fly when the area is in use, gates are locked and wardens patrol the area. There is a range patrol boat to guide shipping away from the danger areas and flying restrictions operate in the airspace overhead. The footpaths are cleared of any unexploded ordnance between the yellow markers, but occasionally unexploded shells can be washed up onto the beach. These are dangerous and should not be touched or moved. Contact the Range Wardens who will arrange the safe disposal of the offending item. It is worth mentioning that it is not uncommon for divers to see unexploded shells on the seabed. These should be left where they are and given a wide berth. The range walks and coast path are open most weekends and some weekdays, but more definite information can be obtained by contacting the Lulworth Firing Range Wardens on 01929 404819.