Portlands own Jurassic finds 1837

Only when you read the old newspapers do you realise what a rich tapestry of life runs through the area.

A little snippet appeared in the June of 1837’s newspapers.

Over on Portland Mr Richard Lane owned and ran a quarry there.


 One day, while the men were hard at work, a large block of stone was removed from its bed some 40 odd foot below the surface. To everyones amazement, it’s removal revealed a hidden and secret world, for beneath was the opening to a huge cavern. What was even more impressive, was what gems were found inside that cavern. Not jewels of the diamond variety, but bones, hundreds of bones. There were not only the normal sheep, bunnies,( see…didn’t say the r….t word), deer and bullock bones, but more exotic animals such as tigers and hyenas. 

These bones were apparently in an excellent state of preservation, some were even completely embedded in the stalegmites that dotted the floor of the cavern.

It was decided that they were “of great antiquity” many believing them to be from the Antediluvian period (the period before the Great Biblical Flood) 

Some of the bones were gathered up and handed over to the Museum of the Weymouth Institution. No mention of what happened to all the remaining ones, presumably they made great little ‘holiday’ souvenirs for the wealthy visitors to the area, and a nice little earner for the quarrymen.

A further report later in the year states that great interest was taken in these remains by the general scientific community. . Large fossilised trees had been uncovered before on Portland, but these were the first such animal remains ever found on the Isle.

The museum itself in Weymouth was growing in fame and popularity due to it’s expanding collection of natural history and exhibits of the local geology and minerals.

In the October of that year, the Museum was visited by no less a celebrity than the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, such was the interest in these fossilised bones of ancient times. 

I wonder what ever happened to them?

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