The BEACH at Redcar Palace

The BEACH on the Rocks. (Photo (C) Geology at Hull)

What did you miss if you didn’t come to our first BEACH (Bold Earth-Art Cleveland Heritage) event at Redcar Palace? Oh, not much. Only MONSTER MOLLUSCS, MICROSCOPIC MOUNTAINS, and MAGNIFICENT MYTH-MAKING!

Monster molluscs

After a quick introduction at the Palace, we all headed out onto Redcar Rocks, to see what remarkable things we might find. Seven year-old Oliver was the sea-star, turning up all manner of marvels, from modern sea urchins and ancient oysters to Ice Age erratics and man-made rocks, before spotting a hefty chunk of early Jurassic ammonite. The Rock Showman kindly carried it back to the Palace so that all could admire it.

Oliver’s ammonite, with oranges for scale. (Photo (C) Paul Hendrie)

Microscopic mountains

Once we’d plonked our finds on the table, and taken a spot of refreshment, we asked our BEACH researchers to explain themselves. They were very happy to do so. Extinctions expert Dave Bond told us that, whilst mass extinctions were catastrophic, humans wouldn’t be here without them. Oceans expert Bryony Caswell explained how the fossilized Jurassic seafloors of Whitby can help us understand what’s happening in stressed seas today. Gemmology expert Sarah Steele served up some jaw-dropping jet science, including the fact that Whitby jet is NOT fossilized monkey puzzle tree. Mountains expert Anna Bird explained how to hunt for the remains of mountains in microscopic dust particles. And climate expert Mike Rogerson told us why he loves limestone, and why we can only predict Earth’s future by studying its past. Five fascinating talks!

Professor Dave Bond talks extinction at the Redcar Palace (Photo (C) Geology at Hull).

Magnificent myth-making

The BEACH project is all about making connections and telling stories, so we were thrilled to have Redcar storyteller, writer and researcher Carmen Marcus join us. Carmen explained the power of storytelling in linking people to a place, and asked us to come up with our own BEACH myths, based on the things we’d seen, heard, and found. Some brilliant stories were conjured up in very quick time, and we will collate and share these as the BEACH project continues.

Author and researcher Carmen Marcus tells us how to make myths. (Photo (C) Geology at Hull)

So, if this sounds like the sort of thing you’d like to get involved with, make sure you sign up for our next BEACH event, also at Redcar Palace, on Saturday October 28th. If you can’t make the 28th, we’re also bringing the BEACH to Skinningrove on October 31st. Find out more, and book your free tickets for that event, on the Land of Iron website.

The BEACH (Bold Earth-Art Cleveland Heritage) Project is run by Fossiliam (me) and The Rock Showman (Steve Cousins), supported by Tees Valley Arts at Redcar Palace, the Land of Iron, and Kirkleatham Museum. Funding for the project was generously provided by the UK Science Festivals Network ‘Making Connections‘ scheme.

Earth scientist in York, fossilist across Yorkshire. Co-director of the Yorkshire Fossil Festival and palaeontologist for hire. Can be found twittering, facebooking, and instagramming as @fossiliam.