Fossils in Caithness and Sutherland

Osteolepis Panderi is very similar to O. macrolepidotus but rarely exceeds 100mm.  It occurs in the Spittal Beds and their equivalents.

This area is able to boast an abundance of fossil sites.  Caithness Flagstone is especially famous, and in particular the quarries at Spittal, for their fossil examples.

You can even pick up fossils on the beaches here!  I have picked up a few really nice pieces from  beaches at Brims and Castletown.  It is also possible to find rather nice specimens of plant fossils here.  There is one in the Spittal hall.  I have one that my Mother picked up on a local loch, but I am not sure which one.

For information on Fossils you could ask local expert Jack Saxon, who is currently compiling a new book of Fossil Fishes (The Palaeozoic Fishes of the Orcadian Basin). 

To contact Mr Saxon you can contact him at home:

Jack Saxon
7 Rockwell Terrace
KW14 7PJ
Telephone:  01847 892744

Suggested reading on Fossils in this area would be:

Back to Caithness

Gold Panning at Kildonan

Helmsdale WaterKildonan is in Sutherland.  If you are heading down country from Thurso, then you can either go via Melvich (down the Strath of Kildonan) or you can go down the main A9 until you reach Helmsdale and then go up the Strath until you reach Kildonan.  Coming from the South, stop at Helmsdale, find the Timespan Heritage Centre (near the old bridge at Helmsdale) and take the A897 to Kildonan (about 9 miles).

Once you get there you will be asked to leave your details (Name, Address and Car Registration) on a slip of paper and to put it into the box provided.  You are only allowed to pan at Kildonan for 2 weeks out of every year, and only between the bridge at Baille an Ór to the wooden bridge.  You are not allowed to dig because this will cause erosion to the banks.  You are also not allowed to use any mechanical devices with which to find gold.

On a beautiful day, there is nothing more peaceful or relaxing that sitting in the river on a boulder gold panning!

In Helmsdale, down at the harbour, you will find a shop that will hire out Gold Panning Equipment.

Kildonan was the site of the 1868-69 gold rush.  A nugget weighing more than half an ounce was found in the burn in about 1840.  It was a local man (R N Gilchrist) who first found gold in any quantity here.

Gold Panning Guide for Kildonan area:  Ronnie Sutherland - Email

Suggested reading: