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Fossil collecting on Skye

The Scottish Fossil Code, which encourages the responsible collection of fossils, applies equally to the rich fossil heritage of Skye.

But it’s important that exceptional and unusual fossils, like dinosaur remains, are properly recorded and saved for research, education and exhibition.

Skye is Scotland’s ‘Dinosaur Island’, as all of our Jurassic dinosaur species are found here. Some of Skye’s fossil heritage is internationally important.

Scotland’s palaeontology experts and museums are keen to hear from fossil collectors and members of the public who think they’ve made important finds.

How you can help

You may collect fossils on Skye as long as you do so responsibly and follow the Scottish Fossil Code.

If you’re lucky enough to find an exceptional fossil such as a reptile bone or dinosaur footprint, you must leave this as you found it. Don’t try to extract part of a fossil specimen, as this will damage it and reduce its scientific value.

Others may already know about the find, and it may be the focus of a research project or educational programme. But in case not, you should record the position of the fossil, take photos of it and report the find.

It is irresponsible and reckless to use equipment such as rock saws, picks, crowbars and sledgehammers to remove fossils from a rock exposure. You should report any irresponsible and reckless collecting that you come across. You can do this anonymously if you prefer.

Report a find

You can report your find to any one of the below. Arrangements may be made to record and/or retrieve the specimen if it’s particularly significant.

Meryl Carr, Scottish Natural Heritage
Email:meryl.carr@nature.scot

Dugald Ross, Staffin Museum
Email: dugaldross@aol.com

Neil Clark, The Hunterian
Email: neil.clark@glasgow.ac.uk

Stephen Brusatte, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh
Email:sbrusatt@staffmail.ed.ac.uk 

Report an incident of irresponsible collecting

Report the incident as soon as possible if you suspect that irresponsible collecting is taking place. You could approach the persons involved to ask if they have permission to collect fossils – as long as this doesn’t put you at risk.

If you can do so without arousing suspicion, note down details of the:

  • exact location of the incident (e.g. grid reference)
  • registration number, make, model and colour of vehicles in the area

To report an incident, call Police Scotland on 101.

Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Report signs of irresponsible collecting

Freshly broken rock found next to a fossil location might be evidence that irresponsible and reckless collecting has taken place.

Take care not to disturb the scene, and report the location of the evidence to us as soon as you can. You should email meryl.carr@nature.scot.