Mary Anning

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My childhood holidays in the Lyme Regis area instilled my love of the West Country and a desire to live here. I used to hunt around the blue lias cliffs equipped with a hammer and one of Dad’s chisels looking for fossils from the Jurassic age. Maybe it is testament to the fact that I have always been a geek that I used to pretend that I was the 19th century fossil hunter, Mary Anning. I hacked away at those crumbling cliffs but a giant specimen always evaded me. If I was lucky I found flaky ammonites or broken, spiky belemnites, known as devil’s fingers.

Here’s one of Mary’s specimens that I spied on a visit to the Natural History Museum in London a few years ago. I was thrilled to see it. She found her first icthyosaur when she was twelve years old. Of course because she was working class and, shock horror!, a woman she never received due recognition in her lifetime.

I was delighted to hear that a monument to my heroine in Lyme Regis is being erected later in 2022. It’s just about to be cast in bronze. What pleased me more that it was a local thirteen year old, Evie Pearson, who campaigned for the memorial statue. It will be placed facing the Black Ven where Mary Anning worked. I’m so delighted to hear that another teenager girl is an ardent fan.

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