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Birling Gap fossils and fossil collecting

From the A259, take the B2103 to the west of Eastbourne. This road is also the main seafront road through the town.
Take the road called Beachy Head Road to Beachy Head and Birling Gap. Follow it until you reach Birling Gap.
Here, there is a large car park (chargeable) with toilets. There are steps down to the beach, which provide easy access to the location. The site also has a pub, cafe and parking for coaches. In addition, buses frequently run to the site.
From here, you can walk either east or west, visiting the chalk at the very eastern end of the Seven Sisters or west of Beachy Head. However, by far the best area is to the west, because the chalk from Beachy Head lighthouse to Birling Gap is not as fossiliferous as other nearby localities.

GRID REF: TV 55351 95959,
50.74245°N, 0.20045°E

Echinoids, Sponges, Molluscs, Fish remains
Fossil Collecting at Birling Gap

Birling Gap is situated between the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head. Indeed, both of these locations can also be visited from Birling Gap on a retreating tide. However, due to dangerous tides along this part of the coastline, these three locations have been split into separate guides, with separate access points. This guide concentrates on the area around the access point of Birling Gap.
Where is it


Fossils from Birling Gap are not as common as they are at the western end of the Seven Sisters (near Seaford and Cuckmere Haven) and east of Beachy Head towards Eastbourne. Nevertheless, fossils are still commonly found and, with favourable conditions, some superb echinoids can be collected.

Suitable for children

Birling Gap has easy access and is safer than other nearby localities. There are toilets at the car park and the beach does not have large boulders or an algae covered foreshore. This is certainly the most easy accessible chalk location in Sussex and the best for children to visit.

Easy Access

Unlike the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, access from Birling Gap is excellent. The metal steps down to the beach are constructed to give easy access and there are not that many. In addition, the beach has fewer rocks, with no large boulders, and it is not as badly covered in seaweed and/or algae as similar locations. Therefore, it is an ideal location for all the family to visit. In addition, you can also visit the famous localities of Beachy Head and Seven Sisters from here if you are careful about tide times.

Cliffs and Foreshore

Fossils are mostly found on the foreshore, in the wave-cut platform or in fallen rocks. The only problem is that there are fewer rocks on the foreshore than at other localities. However, this is also the reason why this location is safer than others.

No Restrictions

There are no restrictions at this location, but please follow our own code of conduct for all locations.

Birling Gap
Tide Times

UK Tidal data is owned by Crown Copyright, and therefore sadly we are not allowed to display tide times without paying expensive annual contracts. However we sell them via our store, including FREE POSTAGE
Click here to buy a tide table

Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used and you should check tide times before going. Indeed, this site should only be visited on a falling tide, as the sea comes in quickly. Do not hammer into the cliff face.

Last updated:  2012
last visited:  2012
Written by:  Alister and Alison Cruickshanks
Edited by:  Jon Trevelyan

Most of the fossils can be found on the foreshore without the need to break up rocks. However, a hammer and chisel are recommended to extract them.

Location Photos

Fossil Collecting
Your Reports

Echinoids, sponges, molluscs and fish remains can all be found. The geology here consists of the Lewes and Seaford Chalk, which are Cretaceous in age (85myrs old). At the steps, the Seven Sisters Flint Band can be seen as a wave-cut platform. This can also be seen in the cliffs both to the east and west of the steps. However, the shingle on the beach can make collecting difficult, but a short walk either to the east or west of the steps will provide better exposures of foreshore chalk and rocks to look through.

Sponges are fairly common here - from the Cuckmere Sponge Bed - which is just above the Seven Sisters Flint Band. Some wonderful specimens of the sponge Aptychus can be seen and, from the same horizon, opalised plant remains have sometimes been found. Echinoids are also common here (especially micrasters), which are mostly found in the rocks of the foreshore.

Chalk exposed as a wave cut platform

Geology Guide Cretaceous, 85mya

The geology here consists of the Lewes and Seaford Chalk, which are Cretaceous in age (85myrs old). At Birling Gap steps, the Seven Sisters Flint Band can be seen as a wave-cut platform. This can also be seen in the cliffs both to the east and west of the steps.. ...[more]

More Guides

Flint Ecinocorys echinoid.

Other Locations similar to Birling Gap

In Sussex and Kent, there are many excellent locations for collecting chalk fossils. Newhaven, Seaford, Seven Sisters, Eastbourne, Beachy Head , Peacehaven and Birling Gap, Dumpton, Kingsgate, Samphire Hoe, Pegwell Bay, Dover, St Margarets Bay.

Related Books
Geological Supplies

Fossils of the Chalk

A fantastic book covering the chalk of the UK. This book covers most of the fossils that can be found in the chalk. It is a fully illustrated guide. This is the second edition of this popular book and is available from our own UK Fosils/UKGE Store.

All of our books have FREE UK Delivery, We have hundreds of geological books for sale.

At Birling Gap, you can find Microfossils from the chalk. They are much easier to collect because they are so small that you only need a small amount of chalk sample. You then need to break it down in water and view using a microscope to view these.

Chalk is actually composed of fossil shells, so you only need a small amount of sample on your microscope.

We have a wide range of microscopes for sale, you will need a Stereo microscope for viewing microfossils.

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We sell a wide range of geological hammer and geological picks as well as fossil tools, starter packs and geological chisels.

UKGE is your geological superstore, selling a wide range of field equipment, rocks, minerals, fossils, geological and even microscopy!

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While we (UKGE/UK Fossils) try to ensure that the content of this location guide is accurate and up to date, we cannot and do not guarantee this. Nor can we be held liable for any loss or injury caused by or to a person visiting this site. Remember: this is only a location guide and the responsibility remains with the person or persons making the visit for their own personal safety and the safety of their possessions. That is, any visit to this location is of a personal nature and has not been arranged or directly suggested by UK Fossils. In addition, we recommend visitors get their own personal insurance cover. Please also remember to check tide times and rights of way (where relevant), and to behave in a responsible and safe manner at all times (for example, by keeping away from cliff faces and mud).
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