Oyster’s end

We collected three of these on 5 Janary 2000 from where the eastern and western flanks of an anticline expose the Upper Oxford Clay on the beach east of Weymouth. Having first tried digging some fragments out from clay blocks at Furzy Cliff (Jordan’s Cliff), once we’d gone round Redcliff Point fairly intact specimens could be picked up from between larger stones on the beach, where they had ended up after having been washed out of their clayey encasement.


In Upper Oxford strata, Gryphaea dilatata
Lies quite still and doesn’t make a sound.
She’s inside Furzy Cliffs with lots of other stiffs,
All buried several metres underground.

But rock-falls, slumps and slides, and the action of the tides
Contribute to her sense of deep despair;
She sees her die’s well cast when geologists stroll past
Waving hammers, trowels and chisels in the air.

It won’t be long, she knows, before her shell-edge shows,
And that will be her lot – her great demise.
But she feels her soul is still intact, and surely will
Go straight to oyster heaven in the skies.

[Photo: Ian West (soton.ac.uk)]
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