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Excel Gil
Hi All,
I am not a knowledgeable fossil person and but historically loved Time Team which is clearly for the amateur archaeologist as opposed to Geologist. I live in Willingdon, (Eastbourne area), a stones throw from the South Downs and after digging about in the garden over the past few years and finding multiple small examples of what look like fossils, exceptionally small sections of Ammonites, I decided to do a dig to confirm if the small fragments were coming from top soil which had been brought in or were actually in situ items. In terms of stratigraphy, I dug down approximately two metres, I passed through top soil, yellow clay, blue clay, an exceptionally thin sandy/stony layer, more blue clay, another even thinner sandy layer and now back into the blue clay. I have found lots of small fossilized shapes not sure what any of them are but am happy to upload some photos. Today there was a lot of heavy rain which filled in the pit I've dug so haven't been able to continue my excavations but I've come across a layer in the clay which is full of spherical nodules some as big as half to a whole fist size and everywhere I try and put the trowel I seem to be hitting some form of fossilized material, again the extreme density of the finds is remarkable. My wife thinks I'm mental but even she is beginning to think I've hit a solid bed of fossilized items.
Enough of the monologue. I was looking for advise on how to continue the excavations as to me it is amazing and feels like I've hit a solid layer of an old shore line or some such? Some of the items I've lifted are solid spheres of fossilized material but others like the partial Ammonites seem to break really easily so wanted some assistance to see if I could get some direction on how to lift and even if someone who knows what they are talking about wants to take a look. I've spoken to several people locally who have suggested I speak to a museum or some such but I believe a step too far initially. I'd be really interested in getting a timestamp for the age of some of the items so any ideas would be welcomed. Thanks in advance for any assistance.
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Gary W
You are just off of the chalk of the south downs probably getting into lower chalk.  Up in kent this strata often yields a lot of pyrite/marcasite  nodules.  Post some photos of your finds.

Also be careful digging in the hole as it could collapse in on you.
Gary
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Excel Gil
Hi Gary W,
Please see attached a selection of photos.  I appreciate any advise given. Not sure if the wife wants the hole to collapse in on me or not! The photos are of some of the same things from different angles. I have probably hundreds of pieces from an area less than two dinner plates wide and half a dinner plate thick. Over time I have found what I thought were pieces of a hair comb in the garden and they were thrown out but I can see a small piece of one attached to one of these and looked it up and now think it is possibly a pedicle??? I attached a photo of one found in conjunction with something else next to it. Thanks again...
IMG_0935.jpg  IMG_0936.jpg  IMG_0937.jpg  IMG_0938.jpg  IMG_0939.jpg  IMG_0940.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0922.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0923.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0924.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0925.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0926.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0927.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0928.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0929.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0930.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0931.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0932.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0934.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0941.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0942.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0943 (1).jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0943.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0944.jpg  thumbnail_IMG_0945.jpg 
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Gary W
Right, you are digging into the Gault Clay, I can see several fossils, pieces of ammonite, a belemnite and bivalve.  Some of the pieces are phosphatic nodules.   This fits with your location just off of the chalk.  
Gary
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Excel Gil
Hi Gary, I hope you'll forgive my inquisitiveness as I have a number of questions. First the area I've come upon is almost solidly made up with the phosphatic nodules that you've mentioned. I've just looked up on our friendly search engine and they look identical to what I have landed on (I wouldn't have had a clue without your counsel so massive thanks). Does the finding of a thick patch of these tell me anything about the age of the shore or estuary etc that I might have come upon? If I were to carry on digging through them, how deep do you think they would be and based on your knowledge if I were to get past them what type of fossils might I come upon? My original believe was that most fossils were flat in nature but these are so (sounds weird) three dimensional it astounds me. My assumption is that these are of no geological or local value and only of value to the likes of me for sentimental reasons so in order to pass the solid layer would I be best to dig through with brute force to get to the other side or to gently peel away the layers to see what I might find? I am just hitting these phosphatic nodules with every trowel of clay I try and excavate and not sure how to deal with them. Again your thoughts would be much appreciated.
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estwing
The Gault fossils are from the Albian stage, so they're about 100 million years old
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Gary W
At Folkestone the best solid fossils tend to occur in the phosphatic nodule bed which is only about 10cm thick. 
Presuming your exposure is similar it is doubtful if you go much deeper you would find more than you are now, also it would become dangerous.
So I would perhaps stick to the depth you have but if you want 'extend the trench' to get more nodules and fossils.
Gary
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