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Aust cliff fossils and fossil collecting

Aust cliff can be accessed from the Junction 1 of the M48. From the roundabout at the exit, head towards Aust. IMMEDIALTY take the next turning right and follow the lane down until past the last bend, you see the river Severn.
You can park along this road, alongside the river. There is another road with just after the bend you just took which is the route to the foreshore. This road will come to a gate with a raised concrete minor road used by the electricity companies to repair the pylons that go over the Severn. Follow this road and continue along the footpath at the end of the road to reach the cliffs.

Grid Ref: 51.60334°N, 2.62888°W

Fish teeth, coprolites and scales, reptile bones and teeth and bones, molluscs.
Fossil Collecting at Aust


The Famous Red and White cliffs that can be seen when crossing the river Severn contain a highly productive bone bearing bed at the very top from the Rhaetian Penarth series. This bed is full of teeth, reptile and fish remains.
Where is it

High

 

Fossils are regularly found at Aust, just a small amount of the famous bone bed can yield a high number of teeth, coprolites and bone fragments, and even if you cannot find any of these blocks, there is plenty of carboniferous molluscs to search for. The blocks of Aust bone bed are highly collected, so are usually quickly broken down by collectors. However, the broken down smaller pieces of bone bed can usually be broken down further!


Suitable for Children

 

Aust is suitable for children, provided they are supervised by an adult, keep to the Southern side of the bridge and DO NOT walk round to the northern side, keep away from the cliffs at Aust and mud flats.


Easy Access

 

Aust is easy to access, providing that you stick to the Southern side. The Northern side is much more difficult to access and should only be done by experienced collectors, wearing appropriate footwear. There are no toilets near Aust.


Foreshore

 

Fossils at Aust are found along the foreshore. Fossils are found in the beds at the top of the cliff, the rest of the cliff section is totally unfossiliferous, therefore you will need to search the blocks along the foreshore and areas of shingle.


No Restrictions

 

There are no restrictions to Aust, but we ask that you follow our safe and sensible guide to fossil hunting. Although not an official right of way to the beach, the council and national grid allow permission to use the raised road, for walking, but not for any vehicles. An information board explaining this is at the end of this raised road.

 

Common sense when collecting at all locations should be taken and knowledge of tide times should always be noted. There are several dangers at Aust and these become more apparent if you plan to collect from the Northern side of the bridge. To get here, you will need to walk round the pillar of the Severn bridge when the tide is retreating. However, this is slippery, often having dangerous mud flats and you can easily get cut off by the tide if you do not return before the tide starts to come in. General safety at Aust is to keep away from the cliff as this can fall or crumble at any time, and to keep away from the mud on the foreshore which can be dangerous.


Aust
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


Last updated:  2010
last visited:  2010
Written by:  Alister and Alison Cruickshanks


Locations similar to Aust

If you are interested in other similar locations to that of Aust, you can also try other neaby locations along the River Servern including Hock Cliff, Sedbury Cliffs, Wainlode Cliff, and Westbury on Severn.

 

Along the Somerset coast, Blue Anchor and Lilstock are the best locations for Rhaetian fossils with Lavernock and Penarth both in South Wales being very popular locations.

 



Many fossils can simply be collected from the foreshore, especially along the tide line. However, any large lumps of the bone bed will require strong tools to split them up. A good eye is often all you need, but tools are there to aid the fossil hunter, and you never know when you may need them.

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The cliffs of Aust are at both the North and South side of the bridge. When you enter the foreshore, you are on the Southern side which is currently being washed out more than the Northern side. To access the northern side, you will need to wait until the tide is low enough to walk around the concrete bridge support. Take extreme care if accessing this area as it can be slippery with mud flats. Return before the tide turns to avoid the risk of being cut off.

Look out for shells, and loose bones, teeth, or bone fragments in the areas of shingle. Occasionally you should come across large lumps of the bone bed though they are usually quite small as collectors have already split them down. You only need a small amount of the famous bone bed, to yield some finds. Common fossils are shark and fish teeth and fish scales and coprolites. Fragments of bone are also very common and often are from Ichthyosaur and Pleisiosaur remains, but identifiable bones are less common such as large vertebrae’s and leg bones. You can also find fossilised clams, and oysters at Aust.


Fossiliferous bone bed, full of coprolites, bone fragments and teeth at Aust

Aust is a very popular location for collecting fossils and because of this high competition means that the bone bed blocks are becoming harder to find. However, in recent times the South side of the bridge is regularly washing out, with fresh cliff falls and a good amount of material to search through.
The Red Marls are unfossilferous, so there is no point in searching within this layer. The bone bed comes from the top of the cliff at the base of the Lower Lias, and is unreachable, this location is dependent on cliff falls.


Geology Guide Triassic, 175mya


Geological formations at Aust Cliff, (click to enlarge)

The uppermost beds at the top of Aust Cliff are marine deposits from the Lower Lias. Just below this level, is the Westbury Formation from the Rhaetic beds. The red coloured beds beneath this, are the older triassic layers of the Keuper and Tea Green beds, these where formed in desert like conditions and are unfossiliferous. Together these two Triassic beds make up the Mercia Mudstone Group and Penarth Group. You may also find the odd hard carboniferous limestone rock which has been washed from both the River Avon brought from the Bristol area and from rocks beneath the river Severn...[more]

More Guides


Cross section of a Jaw ...[more]

Fossils from the Rhaetian Penarth
Geology Explained
in the Severn Vale
Geological Supplies

Fantastic book covering 32 plates full of the fossils found at Aust in high resolution. Over the years, many fantastic finds have been made in the Rhaetian Penarth beds, most at Aust. This book is ideal for identifying your finds from this location as well as others including Blue Anchor in Somerset, Westbury on Severn and Sedbuary Cliffs.
FREE UK DELIVERY - Click to buy

This classic book explains the geology in the Severn Vale and Cotswolds including locations to visit, fossils to find and is full of excellent diagrams and drawings. It has an excellent chapter on Aust, including other locations along the Severn; Westbury on Severn, Wainlode Cliff and Hoc Cliff, and the building of the Severn bridge including the Severn Bore.


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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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