Lyme Regis is the town where lived and died Mary Anning (1799-1847), the greatest fossil hunter ever known. She was a self-educated working class woman and, after becoming interested in fossil collecting, she discovered skeletons of Ichthyosaurus, Plesiosaurus and Pterodactylus, some of the most significant geological finds of all time. I saw a picture of Mary Anning in the Natural History Musuem of London four years ago. Since then I have decided to visit Lyme Regis and the Jurassic Coast. On July 27th, during a summer school in Exeter with my students, I made my dream come true!
First step: I went to the Tourist Information Centre and checked the Tide Times in Lyme Regis. I know that I must collect fossils on the beach when the tyde is out and stay away from the cliffs because of landslides and falling rocks
Second step: went to the beach and I walked on pebbles, rocks and red sand, always looking at the ground but without any success. When I saw a professional fossil hunter with gloves, eye protection glasses and hammer, who hammered the grey limestone rocks known as “the ammonite graveyard”, I understood that it is not so easy to find fossils! But at least I found a lot of interesting stones and I visited his fossil shop to see ammonites and belemnites!
Third step: After a light lunch in a meadow with a view on the cliffs, I visited the museum of Lyme Regis, with his jurassic floor, where are collected fossils and documents about the history of the town and its most famous citizens.
Fourth step: A walk in the main street, in order to find the Mary Anning’s fossil shop where she died, until the graveyard of the St. Michael Archangel Parish Church where she is buried with her brother Joseph.
A perfect day of freedom and satisfaction.
- Patricia Pierce “Jurassic Mary: Mary Anning and the Primeval Monsters” (2015) Paperback
- Tracy Chevalier ” Remarkable creatures” (2010) Penguin Books.