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Church Ope Cove fossils and fossil collecting

Follow the signs to the Isle of Portland from Weymouth and, once you are on the island, drive through the town of Fortuneswell. Then follow the road to Easton. Take Eastern Road towards the museum and continue down the eastern side of the Island.
There is car park just before Perryfield Quarry, with a footpath on the opposite side of the road taking you to Church Ope Cove.
Parking is free on the Island of Portland (with the exception of the privately owned car park at Portland Bill). Follow the path from the car park to the church and, from here, it continues down some steps on the northern side of the churchyard. This will take you all the way down to the beach, from where you need to head south. GRID REF: 50.53731°N, 2.42884°W

Map of Dorset and Church Ope Cove
ammonites, mollusc's, trace
Fossil Collecting at Church Ope Cove

The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site is one of the most famous and most popular Jurassic locations in the world, yielding plenty of fossils for the thousands that come collecting every year. And Charmouth is at the heart of it all. This geological guide features both the cliffs of Black Ven and Stonebarrow, and information on the local area of Charmouth.
Where is it


Fossils at Church Ope Cove are not common and those that can be found are poorly preserved. Most of the ammonites have been taken, although fragments can still be seen in the cliff face at the southern end of the bay.

Not for Children


Church Ope Cove is not suitable for children, as the rocks are too big for smaller children to climb over. In addition, there is no easy way around the two headlands.

Poor Access


Accessibility is poor at Church Ope Cove, since you have to climb over some very large rocks.

Cliffs, Rocks


Fossils are mostly found in the rocks fallen at the base of the cliff and you will have to clamber over these. However, there are plenty of fossils that can be seen in the blocks, but these are best photographed, so that others can see them.

No Restrictions


There are no restrictions on the Isle of Portland, but sensible collecting is important for all locations. Please follow our Code of Conduct found under our safety notes section below.

We do recommend leaving the fossils in the rocks for others to view and photograph.

Common sense when collecting at all locations should be taken and knowledge of tide times should always be noted. Although the bay itself is quite safe, the two headlands are very rocky, you will have to climb over the rocks which can be quite dangerous, so please take extra care.

Church Ope Cove
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



Family run bed & breakfast, comfortable non-smoking accommodation with tea & coffee making facilities and networked & wireless broadband in all rooms. Open all year. Private parking.

151 Weston Street, Portland, DT52DG
Tel: 01305 821573

If you would like to advertise on this page, please 'contact us'.
£10/Year or 'FREE' for return links from accommodation website pages.

Last updated:  2008
last visited:  2008
Written by:  Alister and Alison Cruickshanks
Edited by:  Jon Trevelyan

Geological Tools

Most of the fossils at Church Ope Cove are found in the hard Portland Stone. You will need a good quality hammer and chisel to collect any. Therefore, a crack hammer and safety goggles are recommended at this location.

Locations similar to Church Ope Cove

For other locations with Portland Stone, try Dancing Ledge, Perryfield Quarry, Freshwater Bay or West Weare in Dorset

More Guides

Location Photos
Kimmeridge Clay and Portland Stone at Church Ope Cove

Fossil Collecting
Your Reports

There are no restrictions on collecting on the Isle of Portland, but sensible collecting is important for all locations. However, we recommend leaving the fossils in the rocks for others to view and photograph. You can find the burrows of animals (trace fossils), bivalves and oysters in the Purbeck Beds (Lulworth Formation). Fragments of the large ammonite
(Glaucolithites) can be seen in the Portland Beds, but complete ammonites are very rare. The Basal Shell Bed yields bivalves, especially oysters.

Brachiopods are the most common fossil at Church Ope Cove
Bivalves are the most common fossil at Church Ope Cove

Look out for trace fossils at Church Ope Cove, such as these burrows
Look out for trace fossils at Church Ope Cove, such as these burrows

This ammonite fragment can be seen in the cliff face at Church Ope Cove
This ammonite fragment can be seen in the cliff face at Church Ope Cove

Geology Guide
Jurassic, 150mya

At the top of the cliffs at Church Ope Cove are the Purbeck Beds, from the Lulworth Formation. Below these is a complete section through the Portland Stone. Rocks from the Basal Shell Bed can also be seen in blocks fallen from the cliff, which can be full of shells....[more]

Basal Shell Bed from the Portland Beds of Church Ope Cove

Stone Tumblers
Geological Supplies

If you are interested in fossil collecting, then you may also be interested in a stone tumbler (Lapidary). You can polish stones and rocks from the beach which will look fantastic polished using a stone tumbler.

You can polish rough rock and beach glass whilst collecting fossils, on those days where you come back empty handed. These are all high quality machines to give a professional finish to your samples. They can even be used for amber and fossils.

At most locations, you can find microfossils. You only need a small sample of the sand. You then need to wash it in water and sieve using a test sieve. Once the sand is processed, you can then view the contents using a microscope.

We have a wide range of microscopes for sale, you will need a Stereomicroscope for viewing microfossils. The best one we sell is the IMXZ, but a basic microscope will be fine. Once you have found microfossils, you will need to store these microfossils.

Test Sieves are used when searching for microfossils. Microfossils can be found in many locations, and all you need is a small amount of sample such as clays, sands and shales, or if you have acid, limestone, oolite or chalk.

Our UKGE Store sells Endecotts Test Sieves, which are the highest in accuracy and extremely durable and long lasting. These Test Sieves are fantastic for microfossils. Endecotts Test Sieves come in a variety of sizes, frame material and types, they are certificated to EU Standards.

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(C)opyright 2008 - UKGE Limited, UK Fossils Network and Deposits Magazine, all rights reserved.
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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