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"New to Collecting" Page 2

 Collecting in the field 

It is easy to underestimate the range of  specimens available to the mineral collector in the British Isles. The British Isles are historically famous for the range and diversity of specimens from the famous mining areas, these include 


 Copper, tin and lead mines of Cornwall  and Devon  


 Lead and zinc mines of the Mendip Hills & recently a number of very rare minerals from the same area.


 Celestite workings near Yate in Gloucestershire


 Lead and zinc mines in South Wales


 Iron mines in the Forest of Dean


 Lead and fluorite in Derbyshire


 Iron mines in Cumberland together with copper and lead mines


 Lead and zinc mines in the Northern Pennines


South Wales has the old coal dumps where the rare mineral millerite has been found


Central and North Wales have old copper mines zinc, manganese and even gold


Scotland has many old mines and also famous for a wide range of rock forming minerals

Before you start to head off to look for minerals there are a number of things you need to be aware of

Firstly where are going to look, this can be quite difficult for the beginner so its quite a good idea to start in area that a freely accessible to the general public.

Secondly what are you looking for ? Looking in books and guides at pictures are a good idea, but they tend to  show a range of spectacular material way beyond what you are likely to find.

Thirdly the personal safety implications, all hobbies have a level of risk, you just need to be aware of what they are and ensure you don't ignore then,

 and what do I need to take with me

Finding a suitable place is first on the list, The most obvious are mine dump, and quarries disused and working, beaches, anywhere in fact that a rock  exposure  is accessible, it might  be as the result of road works or construction work, the possibilities when you start to look are vast.  The type of minerals that you will find will be  related to the type of rock form that is exposed. But the availability of collecting locations varies considerably across the country and with time, exposures com and go so where to start.   


Possibly the easiest of place to collect is from a beach, significant  number of beaches will produce  interesting mineral specimens and most have reasonable access. Generally look for the beaches with pebbles, rocks and cliffs (be aware of the possibility of falling material).  Don't expect to find a lot the first time out.  Be aware that beach or areas open to the public are some ones property, as is the material on it, so be sensible treat the area with respect. I will at some stage be providing details of some worthwhile locations for the beginner come along to one of the shows I am attending see the show listing  and I will be happy to set you in the right direction. Just look for the Fischer Minerals stand. Beaches, like most other sites vary considerably some will be barren others can be very interesting and productive but it takes patience and perseverance, so don't be disappointed if you come back with an empty bag. The more you learn the easier it will become, so get your self a basic book on minerals and spend some time just looking at the pictures.

Think small, look carefully at the rock and pebbles (these are best looked at when wet) don't expect to find LARGE CRYSTALS. I have below provided you with some idea of what you can find.


Pebbles collected from Sidmouth beach in Devon              














                                                                                                                                        and with the interior exposed quartz lined cavities


Right a  Quartz geode from Clifton, Bristol, from the beach that runs up below the suspension bridge. the crystals are up to 6-7mm in size the geode is approx 75mm across  Please be careful of the tides

Below a pebble from St Ives Beach in Cornwall containing Tourmaline crystals the white material is quartz. specimen approx 75mm across





Pyrite nodule from Climping  beach in Sussex, can only be found at very low tides this one is complete and was collected many years ago, but they can still be found. This nodule weighs about 2 Kilogram and is 4" across.


Pyrite can still be found at Charmouth Devon but in this case they are found as fossilised ammonites.



If you want to know what equipment you need to take,. go to the next page Collecting Equipment



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