A block of 200 million-year-old ammonites and several “very rare fish”, found in Whitby 180 million years ago but almost impossible to collect these days, are returning to Scarborough after a 50-year stay in Doncaster.
Curators say the Yorkshire-crossing journey for the 55 fossils – conserved as part of a project, CIRCA, paid for with an £82,000 Esmée Fairbairn Foundation grant – has been a “holiday” for the little-known school of ancient specimens.
“The specimens were brought to Doncaster by John Lidster and Elphinstone Forrest Gilmour, who were past curators at the old Woodend Museum in Scarborough,” says Dean Lomax, an Assistant Curator of Palaeontology at Doncaster Museum who is a visiting scientist at Manchester University.
“The Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery opened in 1964, and we believe these remains formed part of a new display on the geology and fossils of Doncaster and the wider region.
“We know there was a section dedicated to the Jurassic Coast of Yorkshire around Scarborough.”
Nigel Larkin, a renowned palaeontologist who has lent his expertise to institutions including the Natural History Museum, cleaned and tended to the fossils as part of a plan which has seen Doncaster’s fossil collections revitalised and repatriated.
“They’re in superb condition thanks to the project,” observes Will Watts, of the Scarborough Museums Trust, who says his team has been “delighted” at the return of the specimens following their “extended vacation”.
“Several, including a leg bone believed to be from a middle Jurassic period dinosaur, will go on immediate display as part of the Scarborough’s Lost Dinosaurs exhibition at the Rotunda Museum.”