Jurassic Coast

place and coastal feature

Aged unknown

The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the English Channel coast of southern England. It stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset, a distance of about 96 miles (154 km), and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in mid-December 2001. The site spans 185 million years of geological history, coastal erosion having exposed an almost continuous sequence of rock formation covering the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. At different times, this area has been desert, shallow tropical sea and marsh, and the fossilised remains of the various creatures that lived here have been preserved in the rocks. Natural features seen on this stretch of coast include arches, pinnacles and stack rocks. In some places the sea has broken through resistant rocks to produce coves with restricted entrances and, in one place, the Isle of Portland is connected to the land by a narrow spit. In some parts of the coast, landslides are common. These have exposed a wide range of fossils, the different rock types each having its own typical fauna and flora, thus providing evidence of how animals and plants evolved in this region. The area around Lulworth Cove contains a fossil forest, and 71 different rock strata have been identified at Lyme Regis, each with its own species of ammonite. The fossil collector Mary Anning lived here and her major discoveries of marine reptiles and other fossils were made at a time when the study of palaeontology was just starting to develop. The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre provides information on the heritage coast, and the whole length of the site can be visited via the South West Coast Path.

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Commemorated on 2 plaques

Nick Harrison on Flickr
Nick Harrison on Flickr

The site has many different landowners. The National Trust owns the most, with about a third of the coastal strip in its care

Marine Drive, Exmouth, United Kingdom where it sited

The South West Coast Path runs through Orcombe Point and the Jurassic Coast. This National Trail is over 1000km (630 miles) long, from Minehead in north Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset

Marine Drive, Exmouth, United Kingdom where it sited