"A curiosity for fabulous things": Multimillion pound Jurassic museum set for Kimmeridge

By Culture24 Reporter | 18 February 2014

A spectacular new fossil museum is on the horizon in Dorset after six years of planning

A photo of an ancient fossil of a lobster
An Eryma - the oldest true lobster - is among the collection held by the Kimmeridge Trust, which will create a new Jurassic museum© Courtesy Kimmeridge Trust
For the past 30 years, Steve Etches has investigated life and death under the seas off Kimmeridge, a Dorset village whose coastal clay fossils tell tales of marine life 150 million years ago.

New scientific specimens, including chelonians, pterosaurs and ichthyosaurs, are among his collection of more than 2,000 late Jurassic examples from a place whose outcrops have surfaced across Europe. When a new museum opens in 2016, funded by a £2.7 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant, Etches’ workshop will be built into the site.

“He is a collector par excellence,” points out Professor Simon Conway Morris, an evolutionary palaeobiology explorer at the University of Cambridge, admitting that there is “no limit” to his admiration for one of Britain’s greatest marine archaeologists.

“But rather than pursuing commercial return he is always open and generous to all who wish to see his collection, from schoolchildren to people like myself.

“His modesty is no reflection of his talents. His collection is a gem for the country and he is a national treasure.”

Kimmeridgian remnants have been found to form oil off the bed of the North Sea. Modern displays will underline its importance at the museum, which will also provide facilities the local community is currently lacking.

“Steve Etches is a marvel,” suggests Oliver Ellis, a teacher from Steyning School.

“His passion and enthusiasm are infectious. He is not just a collector, his collection is not a mere cabinet of curiosities – he wants to know how things lived, interacted and died in the Kimmeridgian Sea.

“He is able and willing to share his knowledge and collection with anyone, to be able to tell his stories to academics, students, Joe Bloggs, the old and young – so long as they have a curiosity for fabulous things.”

The full collection will also be recorded online under the plans.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of a man standing on a cliff overlooking a sea shore
Steve Etches takes a look at Kimmeridge Bay© Courtesy Kimmeridge Trust
A photo of a crocodile fossil
An Ichthyosaur© Courtesy Kimmeridge Trust
A close up photo of a reptillian fossil
The stomach of the Ichthyosaur reveals the remains of fish and other creatures© Courtesy Kimmeridge Trust
A photo of a fossil made up of circular gold stones
The flipper of the Ichthyosaur© Courtesy Kimmeridge Trust
A photo of a dark grey reptile fossil
The Gyrodus is an extinct genus of pycnodontiform bone fish that lived in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods© Courtesy Kimmeridge Trust
A photo of a circular multicoloured reptile fossil
Ammonite© Courtesy Kimmeridge Trust
You might also like:

Thousands pour through doors as Oxford University Museum of Natural History re-opens

Discoveries: Art, Science and Exploration from the University of Cambridge Museums

The Penguins of Grytviken get ready to dive into The Deep in Hull
Latest comment: >Make a comment
Steve's collection is world class-it truly deserves to be displayed in a purpose built museum and he deserves a gong for his contribution to palaeontology.
>See all comments
  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share
    Back to article
    Your comment:
    DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted at www.culture24.org.uk are the opinion of the comment writer, not Culture24. Culture24 reserves the right to withdraw or withhold from publication any comments that are deemed to be hearsay or potentially libellous, or make false or unsubstantiated allegations or are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted.


    • 1 mile
    • 2 miles
    • 3 miles
    • 4 miles
    • 5 miles
    • 10 miles
    • 20 miles
    • 50 miles
    • Any time
    • Today
    • This week
    • This month
    • This year