Collecting Scottish Silurian fossils

Old photograph of a Scottish Silurian fossil site which is now effectively closed to collecting, even for research purposes.

Unfortunately, the Silurian of Lanarkshire is, like other Scottish fossil localities, subject to collecting restrictions by the environmental protection agency Scottish Natural Heritage (a.k.a. SNH). As such, it is nigh-impossible to gain access to fossil sites these days, even for research purposes. SNH is known to mark fossil sites as vulnerable to damage even when it is not the case, thereby justifying the closure of many fossil sites. The principle of lateral continuity, one of the fundamental principles of geology, suggests that fossil beds are enormous and are likely to continue for miles into and along the surrounding landscape. SNH, despite employing geologists, disregards this fact. This raises the question: why does SNH wish to restrict fossil collecting, even for scientific purposes? We believe SNH wants to conserve fossil sites no matter the cost. In fact, SNH is even willing to falsify reports about the condition of a site in order to close it, which is what happened at Birk Knowes SSSI. For more information, we have an extended website about this at Because of SNH’s willingness to falsify reports we raise considerable doubts about the integrity of this organisation and wish to have as little dealings with them as possible. Because of the collecting restrictions, most of the fossils shown here are from an old collection and were found before SNH became paranoid about protecting fossil sites. There are still some fossil sites outside the scope of SNH where some fossils can be found, but these are kept strictly secret so that SNH cannot lay a claim on them.

Birk Knowes SSSI main cliff exposure