When the movie Ammonite goes on widespread release later this year, it is bound to spark interest in the Jurassic Coast. The historical drama, which will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, is set in the early 1800s and it was filmed on location in England.
The movie stars Kate Winslet as paleontologist Mary Anning, who reluctantly brings a young woman called Charlotte Murchison (played by Saoirse Ronan) on fossil-hunting trips, before the two fall in love. Along the way, they search along the beaches of Lyme Regis and the surrounding area for fossils, which the area is rich in because its dark-clay Jurassic cliffs are 190 million years old. Lyme Regis is where most scenes were filmed, while others were shot at Eype Beach and Charmouth Beach.
The Jurassic Coast begins at Orcombe Point in Exmouth, Devon, and continues for 95 miles to Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage, Dorset. It takes in four distinct geographic regions – East Devon, West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland and Purbeck – each containing their own towns, villages and natural landscapes. It became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2001 for the outstanding universal value of its rocks, fossils and landforms.
It began when layers of rocks formed and their varying compositions were determined by different climates. Massive earth movements then tilted all the rock layers, forcing most of the oldest formations to the west and the youngest to the east, and erosion subsequently exposed the different strata. Devon's rusty-red Triassic rocks are between 200 and 250 million years old, and the creamy-coloured Cretaceous rocks that are between 65 and 140 million years old can be found around Lulworth Cove, where erosion has sculpted a stunning display of bays, stacks and rock arches. Further information can be found on the Jurassic Coast's website here.