Friday, 14 September 2012
More from Lyme Regis, Dorset
Above are the lamp posts that adorn Lyme Regis. The symbol of the ammonite reflects that the town is slap bang in the middle of the Jurassic Coast. The town is also home to Mary Anning, a Victorian Paleontologist, remarkable particularly given she was a woman and was a carpenter's daughter from a working class background. Both factors which meant she didn't get due credit from the scientific community at the time, which, as in much of Victorian England, was dominated by "English Gentlemen". Pah! But she rose above all that and made some fantastic finds in Lyme. She was out in all weathers hunting for fossils. She discovered the first ichthyosaur skeleton when she was just 12! She also found the first plesiosaur and pterosaur skeletons (outside of Germany apparently), as well as lots of other important finds.
The author, Tracy Chevalier, based her novel "Remarkable Creatures" on the life of Mary Anning and her friends the Philpot Sisters. According to historians in Lyme Regis, most of the story is true. Though Chevalier has Anning with her father still alive but her mother dead, while in reality it was the other way around. Not sure why such artistic license was necessary but there you go.
The town Museum was built on the site where Mary Anning was born, right next to the town jail! We went on several history walks organised by the Museum, which, despite having to go up and down the hills rather a lot, were very interesting and gave another perspective to the town that you wouldn't get otherwise. The guides really bought the place to life.
The town is limited from development as it is surrounded by cliffs that are unstable geologically and liable to landslip. This is great for fossil hunting but probably not so good if you live near the unstable ground! There was evidence of recent land slips along the shore when we were there. The cliffs around range in geology and colour and are stunning.
These cliffs are along the coast from Lyme.
These were just outside the town, some sea caves spotted on a boat trip
This was just along from the museum - Mary Anning would have hunted on this beach for fossils. You can see the brown mud coloured stone - this soaks up water and then collapses on the shore, bringing the yellower sandy coloured deposits above down with it. You can just see some tiny figures at the base of the cliffs - these people are hunting through a new landslip for fossils. Probably a bit foolhardy as the cliffs are still unstable from the recent slip.
One of the most famous beaches on the Jurassic Coast is Chesil Beach. It stretches for 18 miles around the coast and for most of the length of the beach it's separated from the shore by a lake full of brackish water (water that is has more salinity than fresh water but not as much as sea water). It's an amazing site.
And walking on it is amazing too - it just goes on forever......
So that's it for another day. I'll share more photos soon. Meanwhile, here are the harbour lights of Lyme (a not-very-good TV series called "Harbour Lights" was filmed here too some years ago).