Amber on the Yorkshire coast


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I do not want to dampen your enthusiasm but you will be very lucky to find any. However the odd piece is there on rare occasions . In fact a rather ignorant young geologist would not even believe me when I told her we found it occasionally. She said it was impossible. It is very common in the Baltic region and in Denmark they fish amber out of the North sea with large nets like big shrimp nets. Its density is very close to that of sea water so skips along the bottom of the sea in the slightest of currents.

I also know for a fact that both jet, coal and fossils are found embedded in the boulder clay so there is no reason why amber should not have travelled in a glacier and been deposited in our boulder clay. The amber then gets washed out by erosion of the cliffs.

Weather for finding Yorkshire coast amber

You can find Amber on the Yorkshire coast and I have about 50 pieces. All the pictures above are pieces found on the Yorkshire coast. However conditions have to be just right. You find amber after a fairly prolonged easterly gale . Amber is often found among large amounts of washed up seaweed. You will also see bits of coal and jet in the same area.

You can often find the amber more easily a few days after the gale has finished and the sea has sorted all the material over several tides. Unfortunately we can go for many years without an easterly gale and therefore find none.

Where to find amber on the Yorkshire coast?

Its density is similar to coal so it is usually found near coal on the beach. You will also find jet here as its density is similar to amber.  I know for a fact that it has been found on both the Northern and Southern sections of the Yorkshire coast. Sorry I am not saying any more.

How to tell it is amber

Most amber is yellow/orange in colour and warm to the touch. From a distance yellow plastic from broken car indicator lights can look like amber. There is a very easy test for amber. Just use some sand paper on it and should smell like pine tree resin which of course it is.

Amber comes in a variety of colours from very pale greeny yellow to almost red. It is sometimes clear enough to see through and sometimes quite milky. you can often see small bits of debris in it but I have never found a piece with an insect in yet.

There are many common shiny yellow pebbles that can look like amber and are very common. However they feel cold and hard and of course no resin smell when sanded.

How has the amber got here.

Hard to say but probably from North around Denmark where ancient pine tree resin became buried and fossilized. Then a combination of sea and ice movement south brought it to our shores.

It could have come direct from the Baltic deposits and brought South just by the sea. It is so light it just gets carried along, bumping along the sea bed as it is only just slightly denser than sea water.

Glaciers may have gouged it out of the ground in one of the ice ages and brought it south down what is now the North sea. It then became embedded in the extensive boulder clay deposits. The sea then erodes the boulder clay and liberates the amber which is  washed into the sea.

Difficult to say which method brought it here, but probably both.

My brother is a fisherman who fishes with hundreds of crab pots. He found  the largest piece of amber our family has in a crab pot. It must have bounced along the sea bed and into his pot through one of the spouts. He uses it as a paper weight.

Find out more about amber

Wikipedia has lots of details and so does this new scientific website.  It even has a page about British amber . It is really worth looking. There is even a page about extracting DNA from the animals in the amber. JURASSIC PARK!!!