Mike Marshall – Yorkshire Coast Fossils

This article entitled Mike Marshall – Yorkshire Coast Fossils, was first published on Real Whitby in Summer 2010

“Im very lucky” says Whitby’s Mike Marshall, “My job is also my hobby and my office is the beautiful Yorkshire coastline”.

Mike who owns the world renowned Yorkshire Coast Fossils based near Whitby collects fossils from the local coastline and prepares them for sale online at his fully equipped workshop on the outskirts of town.

However that’s not the full story of Mikes business, its really just the tip of the iceberg as his work is of such a high standard he often receives commissions from right around the globe. 

A recent project for Yorkshire Coast Fossils is the preparation of a Moroccan found fossilised turtle which will be displayed at the worlds largest fossil show in Tucson Arizona early next year.

Mike was working on the fossil this week and says the Giant turtle will take him 2 weeks to fully prepare before he sends it to the states just before Christmas.

What’s even more amazing about this individual story is that the turtle fossil is one of only 2 in the whole world that is fully intact.

Yorkshire Coast Fossils - Turtle Fossil - Mike Marhsall

Fossilised Turtle On Display At Yorkshires Coast Fossils

Mikes next major commission will be the preparation or Mark Smiths Ichthyosaur skull which was recently found near Kettleness.

Mike reports that the marine reptile skull should arrive in his workshop in the run up to Christmas and the work should take a month to 6 weeks to get the fossil ready for display in Marks home near Redcar.

Giving more detail to the Ichthyosaur story, Mike says that the skull had been dug from the cliffs at Kettleness over 100 years ago by Victorian miners.

The rock had been extracted and left on the shoreline by Jet miners who had no idea of what was inside one of the many hundreds of rocks they extracted from the local jet mines.

yorkshire fossil collecting near whitby

Mike Marshal At Work On The Ichthyosaur skull

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to have been taken on a recce of the local coastline with Mike and my son Jay.

As we walked on the shoreline to the south of Whitby at Hawsker bottoms, Mike showed us how he collects his fossils.

We were also fascinated to learn that Mike also mines his jet from the area and the picture below shows the entrance to one of his recent mines.

Hawsker Bottoms Jet Mine Near Whitby

Hawsker Bottoms Jet Mine

Mike also enjoys sea angling and we fish together most weeks throughout the year. Whilst angling he is also on the look out for work.

Surveying the coast for recent rockfalls and landslides is all part of the job description. On our recent angling trips Mike has found several Jet seams and even a crocodile jaw in the scar near Staithes.

iron pyrite canon balls ammonite

Iron Pyrite Canon Balls Containing Ammonites

Mike also makes jet jewellery for sale on his website, along with an assortment of fossils of every shape and description.

Polished canon balls (Iron Pyrite Rocks) containing masses of ammonites are proudly on display at Mikes home on the outskirts of Whitby, along with dinosaur footprints, bones, skulls and teeth.

dinosaur footprint

Mike Marshall With A Dinasaur Footprint

Having known Mike for some time now, its clear this guy loves his job, what’s more he is extremely knowledgeable about the local coastline, his knowledge isn’t just based around fossils either.

His knowledge about geology is immense, as is his knowledge of all that’s happened on the coast throughout time gone by. Iron stone mining, Alum mining, jet mining, if it happened on the Yorkshire Coast Mike can tell you when, where, how and why.

Yorkshire Coast Fossils Gallery

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12 Responses to "Mike Marshall – Yorkshire Coast Fossils"

  1. Sam Baxter  November 27, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Fascinating hobby/job you have there Mike, always been interested in fossils (specially on our coast) but just don't have the time to pursue it. Some fantastic pieces there, the Turtle looks great! Look forward to seeing the finished piece found at Kettleness.

  2. Jimlad  November 27, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Firstly, i envy that job! It was always something i was interested in when i was younger and i ended up studying geology at uni. I often went out collecting fossils, and remember the moment when i found a round nodule with the merest hint of fossil poking out. One hit from the hammer and it broke apart to find a fantastic ammonite or belemnite – you just didnt know what would turn up and that was one of the exciting parts! Studying the rocks, it's possible to consider what environment the creature lived in, how it came to settle, under what conditions it fossilized and then, after millions of years, it is prized out into the open to reveal it's own story to the keen eye! Brill.

    I haven't had the privilage of visiting Mike's shop, but will keep an eye out for it! The whitby / staithes area is a fantastic place to follow your love of geology and sea fishing in one. Cheers for the article


  3. Alan  November 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Fantastice article Glenn next time im up in Whitby i will have to pay Mike a visit

  4. admin  November 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Hi Alan, if you let me know when your up here, I will arrange to come down with you.

  5. Ian Alexander  November 27, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    What a cracking article, realy fascinating stuff. Just another aspect of the coast that most of us know very little about….thanks for sharing.

    Great stuff Mike.

  6. Nigel Ward  November 27, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Great to see stories like this on Real-Whitby. Whitby has so many facets. The more we see on the site, the more the site will reflect what Whitby is all about. Bring 'em on!

  7. admin  November 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Nigel, When I first had the "Real Whitby" idea this is the sort of thing I had in mind. Whilst the site will cover many things I really want to uncover the stories of everyday life that makes Whitby the place it is. I have a lot of ideas for similar articles, I also want interviews with Real Whitby folk on the site, your good self included. I just need the time to do it all.

  8. Pingback: Ichthyosaur fossil found at Kettleness | Mike Marshal | Whitby | Real Whitby | Whitby News

  9. Julie  June 12, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Absolutely fascinating Mike. We have dropped you an email so hopefully we can touch base!

  10. admin  October 12, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I visited Mike at his workshop today. He has some great specimens in at the moment, including, a very rare fish and a large peace of jet which looks awesome. When I say large piece of Jet I mean a tree trunk.

  11. mick Stewart  October 29, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Saw you on the terrific t.v. program ‘Coast’ shown in Australia. I envy your lifestyle. Over the last 10 years I worked with a cantankerous Ferry Skipper who came from Whitby many years ago, was 75 yrs old when he died, still on the payroll ! I wondered if he was related to your family.

    Best regards, Mick Stewart

  12. mick Stewart  October 29, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    I forgot to include the skippers name, I’ve retired only 12 months ago and looks like I’m getting oldtimers, His name was Michael Marshal



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whitby photography by glenn kilpatrick