Palaeontological Collections

Jermyn Street Museum. Museum interior

The BGS Palaeontological Collections are arguably the most important collection of British fossils in the world.

Whilst they are not as numerically large as those of the Natural History Museum they are almost exclusively British.

They represent the fundamental biostratigraphical basis for the geological maps that provide the framework for almost every geological endeavour in Britain; largely because of their integral association with the Survey's 175-year history of mapping British geology.

Fossil montage

Geological collections on the move

New museum, South Kensington.

Our palaeontology collections must have existed when the Survey was based at King's Court. However, the first well-documented arrangement was when they were housed in the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street, London, from about 1849 until the building of the Geological Museum, South Kensington, London, in the 1930s.

Fossils with a story to tell

Fossil starfish.

Fossil starfish collected in 1870 from the Lower Caradoc Shales of Cound Brook and purchased in 1871 for £5.50.

This precious specimen is the oldest fossil star fish known on earth.

This fossil then travelled further after it was collected than it ever would have as a living creature as it accompanied researchers who were studying it whilst on a world voyage an board ship

Things are not always what they seem!

Victorian quarrymen fossil specimen.

This specimen was purchased in good faith from some Victorian quarrymen; when cleaned it revealed that in order to increase the asking price the quarrymen had cleverly added extra specimens to the slab.

The white substance around the edges of some of the fossils indicates where they have been added!