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Looking after Skye's fossils

Skye has a rich fossil heritage, some of which is important internationally. Given that all of Scotland's Jurassic dinosaur species are found here, Skye is sometime known as Scotland's 'Dinosaur Island'.

The Scottish Fossil Code encourages the responsible collection of fossils and applies to the fossil heritage of Skye. However, it is important that exceptional and unusual fossils, such as dinosaur remains, are properly recorded and saved for research, education and exhibition. Scotland's palaeontology experts and museums, in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, are keen to hear from fossil collectors and members of the public, if they think they have found what may be important fossil remains.

It is also important that if irresponsible and reckless collecting of fossil material is encountered, then it is reported.

Here is how you can help

Q 1. Can I collect fossils on Skye?

A 1. Yes, but please do so responsibly and follow the best practice guidance on the collection and care of fossils set out in the Scottish Fossil Code 

Q 2. What if I come across exceptional and unusual fossil finds

A 2. If you are fortunate enough to find an exceptional fossil (for example a reptile bone, or dinosaur footprint), it is possible that others may already know about the find. It may be the focus of a research project or be used for educational purposes and therefore should be left as it is. Do not attempt to extract part of a fossil specimen, as this will damage it, and reduce its scientific value.

Record the position of the fossil, take photographs and then report the find to one of - Staffin Museum (, The Hunterian, Glasgow University (, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh (, SNH ( Arrangements may be made for recording and retrieval of the specimen if found to be of particular significance.

Q 3. What happens if I encounter people collecting irresponsibly, using equipment such as picks, sledge hammers and rock saws?

A 3. You may come across a situation where you suspect that irresponsible and reckless collecting is taking place, whereby equipment such as rock saws, crowbars and sledge hammers is being used to remove fossils from a rock exposure. If so, it may be appropriate, provided you are not putting yourself at risk, to enquire whether the person/persons has /have permission to collect fossils, and they have heard of the Scottish Fossil Code. Useful action would be to note down details including an exact location or grid reference, and the registration number, make, model and colour of motor vehicles in the area, if you are able to do so without arousing suspicion.

You do not have to report the incident directly, as there are anonymous ways of reporting a crime, but if damage to the site is taking place, or fossils and rocks are being removed illegally, it ought to be reported as soon as possible to - Portree Police Station (Tel: 101).

If you are concerned that reporting a crime to the police might put yourself at risk, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You will not be asked your name and you can leave your information anonymously. It may still be very helpful to the police if you can give more detailed information to them in person.

Q 4. What happens if I discover evidence of reckless collecting?

A 4. You may discover evidence of damage to a fossil location undertaken by collectors using the equipment described in Q 3 above, with lots of freshly broken rock lying around. If so, you may wish to report this as soon as possible to Scottish Natural Heritage ( Take care not to disturb the scene.

Last updated on Friday 8th January 2016 at 15:04 PM. Click here to comment on this page