Finding Fossils in Dorset: The Etches Collection

The Etches Collection in Kimmeridge is the newest and brightest jewel on the Jurassic Coast. Well within day-trip distance from all our Holiday Cottages in Dorset, The Etches Collection is a must-see. If you or your kids are interested in fossils, Kimmeridge is your best chance in Purbeck for finding one. Steve Etches MBE has been fossil-hunting in Kimmeridge for most of his life. The Etches Collection is the culmination of years of work and passion. Why not visit while you stay in one of our gorgeous Holiday Cottages? Combine with an afternoon fossil hunting on Kimmeridge beach to get the true Jurassic Coast experience. The team at Etches are always happy to identify any weird and wonderful things you find on the beach!

A bright and modern entranceway: The Etches Collection

I’ve long had a fascination with fossils, beginning with cracking rocks open as a young child and culminating in a degree in anthropology. This meant that I jumped at the chance to visit the museum! I had been dying to since it opened last October. I arrived to a warm reception from the front of house team, immediately making me feel at home and eager to get stuck in.

Accessible Museum with Kitchen Facilities

The main entranceway is modern, with wheelchair lifts and accessible toilets available. Immediately you get a sense of what the museum offers, with a classroom, small gift shop, and function room with kitchen facilities. When I visited this was in use for a Purbeck Art Weeks exhibition featuring fossil-inspired art!

The stunning museum with prehistoric aquarium on the ceiling!

It went from great to fantastic as I had the pleasure of being shown around by Mr Steve Etches MBE himself. He says he is there most days, if not interacting with visitors, then cleaning and processing fossils himself in the museum’s on-site workshop. The chance to chat to the man behind it all is surely unique in museums. Take the opportunity to ask him anything! He offers me extra titbits of information about the unique fossils on display. Can you see how the scales of a prehistoric fish have preserved their colours? Or which specimens are holotypes: all completely new to science. Could these be missing links in evolution?

A virtual prehistoric aquarium… technology meets prehistory

 

Engage kids in history

As you would hope, the museum is very interactive for kids. A simulated prehistoric aquarium is projected onto the ceiling. There are state of the art touch screen displays. These bring modern day life into stark contrast with the prehistoric subject matter. All the kids I saw were very engaged with the fossils and excited at the sight of fossilised poo and stomach contents!

The little shop has a fantastic range of very reasonably priced gifts. Gemstones, artefacts, and of course fossils are on sale. Make sure you purchase a keepsake of the Jurassic Coast before you leave!

The Etches Collection is open every day from 10am-5pm, leaving plenty of time to explore the beach where most of the fossils themselves were found. Maybe you’ll be next to unearth a new species?

Kids engaging with the microscopes and specimens

 

Kimmeridge Bay: Where it all began

It’s not called the Jurassic Coast for nothing. Evocative of dinosaurs, the coastline here has dramatic scenes, clear layers of rock in the cliffs and plenty of school geography trips. The Purbeck coastline touts famous and beautiful beaches to rival any in the world. Kimmeridge, though, is a world apart from Swanage’s sandy Blue Flag beach. Kimmeridge is where you are most likely to come for both fossil hunting and windsurfing alike. The best spot in Purbeck for surfing and sunsets, you’re likely to step on a fossilised ammonite and experience the wonder of standing on ‘the flats’, a shelf of hard rock leading out into the bay – plenty of scope for ‘walking on water’ photos!

Find your perfect Holiday Cottage well within 30 minutes of the Etches Collection and Kimmeridge at Dorset Cottage Holidays.

The flats and layers of rock shown in the cliffs

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