Collecting Rocks and Fossils
We can identify your finds!
We are happy to identify any rock, mineral or fossil specimen at the Museum. Bring your finds to the Museum Shop, tell us where you found them and we'll make an identification on the spot ... free of charge! If it's something unusual, we may ask you to leave it with us for a few days so we can find out more information before we make an identification.
Things we have identified in the last year include the caudal vertebrae (tail bone) of a dinosaur (Valdosaurus) from the Isle of Wight, a rare example of a lobster tail from the local Chalk, and a trilobite forgery - the specimen had two heads!
Useful equipment might include:
- a map of the area [>> where can I get maps?]
- something to carry specimens in
- waterproof notebook, pencil, compass and hand lens [>> where can I get equipment?]
- a camera - log each frame number with a location and description in your notebook, to help identify specimens when you get home
For safety reasons and in the interest of preserving the environment, we don't advise using a rock hammer - you can collect good specimens without one.
If you're going on holiday to the coast or rural location, why not check to see if there are rocks to explore? Holiday destinations in the UK that are also great geology sites include the Isle of Wight, the Dorset coast, Cornwall, parts of Scotland and the Lake District.
Abroad, some of the popular sun-seeker destinations such as Tenerife, Lanzarote and the coast of Spain are fantastic locations to see some geology 'in the field'. Though you might not always be able to bring pieces home, you can be assured of some great photo opportunities.
Further afield, the USA has a variety of easily accessible geological sites, including volcanic formations, impact craters, canyons and fossil sites. Most of these are located in National Parks. If you're planning to visit, you should check access information published by the US National Park Service. You may also find that the Park you're planning to visit has a schedule of guided walks with a geological theme, or other activities based at a visitor centre. Most national Parks have information on the web - check the National Park Service website for full listings.
Geology Clubs and Societies
There are lots of groups in the UK that offer organised fossil hunting expeditions and geology field trips: a selection of these are listed on the links page. Our own Friends of the Sedgwick Museum organises field trips and visits to various sites of geological interest, all included in the annual membership. Find out more.
Where to find Geology Guides
- Find the British Geological Survey Guide to your area
- Earthwise Holiday Geology Guides (UK areas) from the BGS.
- A guide to collecting rocks in the USA, published by the USGS.
Where to find maps for your area
- Order Ordnance Survey (UK) maps.
- Order British Geological Survey Maps.
- Find USGS maps.
- Source topographic and specialist maps for almost any destination at Stanford's (UK).