Selsey Bill

A field trip to Selsey Bill on May 2002, to examine the Bracklesham Beds, had been timed to take advantage of a falling tide. The bad news was that it didn’t fall far enough; the good news was that among our party was the aptly named Bill Luck . . .


In the caravans of Selsey
They were warm and they were dry,
While geologists from Horsham,
Clutching trowels, plodded by.

As the tide retreated slowly,
Leaving sands exposed to view,
The trowelling-folk descended,
Each one looking for a clue.

“There’ll be fossils in abundance:
You can pick ’em up by hand.
(We should see them in a moment,
Lying down there, on the sand . . .)

“They’ll be pyritised and shiny,
And they’re Tertiary in Era.
(Er, the tide’s still not quite out enough,
But I think we’re getting nearer . . .)

“I’ll just wade out in my wellies –
Yes, the bed is well exposed . . .
. . . under water. That’s a pity,
It’s not quite what I’d supposed.

“The tide should be much lower –
Well, it was last time I came.
And now it’s coming in again,
Ain’t that a bloomin’ shame?”

Thus spake our leader, Geoffrey,
But not everyone was listening:
For our Bill had dug the beach up
And what he’d found was glistening!

Soon everyone was at it,
Getting wet and getting cold,
Trowelling up these little molluscs
In their coats of burnished gold.

Then we trudged back up the shingle,
(For the tide was coming still);
We had found some tiny treasures
Thanks to Geoff – and Selsey Bill!

[Photo: University of Sussex Department of Geography]
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