1The Fossil Grove

While Glasgow's sedate Victoria Park might seem a surprising place to find fossils, it was the building of the park in the 1880s which unearthed these 11 fossil trees. The fossils were scale trees or lepidodendron which, like many of Scotland's fossils, come from the Carboniferous rocks of the Midland Valley. The stumps are stone casts of the originals buried 340 million years ago by sedimentary shales and sandstones and then capped by a dolerite which protected the softer rock from erosion. After the fossil trees were uncovered in an old whinstone quarry by workmen building the park, Glasgow Corporation replaced the lost geological layer with a glass roof which protects them from the elements.

Victoria Park, Victoria Park Drive North. Open dawn to dusk, free entry, tel: 0141 959 9087.

2The Bearsden Shark

The star of the Hunterian Museum's fossil collection is the Bearsden Shark.

Excavated in 1981 by ace Scottish fossil collector Stan Wood, the metre-long skeleton with its spike-covered anvil, is so well preserved that its last fish supper can still be seen inside, even after 330 million years in the black shales of Bearsden. According to Dr Neil Clark, Curator of Palaeontology, the shark must have been rapidly buried in mud which prevented scavengers destroying the fossil. The shark - a new genus and species - has recently been renamed akmonistion zangerli. Don't miss the dinosaur footprint and bones from Trotternish on Skye or the amphibious scorpions from equatorial Bathgate.

The Hunterian Museum, University Avenue, Glasgow. Closed Sunday; admission free, tel: 0141 330 4221.


If you visit the National Museum of Scotland for just one fossil, it has to be Westlothiana lizziae, one of Scotland's most famous fossils. Discovered by Stan Wood in West Lothian in 1990, Lizzie is 338 million years old, a small lizard-like vertebrate whose skeleton is that of a land-living animal, distinct from amphibians. Excavated in early Carboniferous shales, it is the oldest-known fossil reptile and a crucial link in the evolution of reptiles and other land animals; dinosaurs, birds and mammals. In the fossil gallery, you can follow Scotland's fossil history from 435 million-year-old graptolites, floating colonies of polyps, past the freshwater fishes and corals, fierce Silurian eurypterids or marine scorpions up to two metres long, and the dicynodont, one of the few creatures to have survived the Great Scottish Desert!

The National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. Open daily; one year season ticket (pounds) 5 adult, (pounds) 3 child. Tel: 0131 247 4422.


Designed for visitors who can't keep their hands off the fossils on display, Rockwatch at the National Museum of Scotland is a geology club for pre-teens and teenagers. The club meets one Saturday morning a month and is open to anybody between eight and 16 and you don't have to be a member. Rocks, fossils and minerals, not normally on display in the museum will be available, along with the chance to study them with a microscope. There are also chances to get out and about looking at rocks and fossils. Last year, 16 National Museum of Scotland's Rockwatchers earned themselves a John Muir Award Discovery Level and the club plans to do the same this year.

The next meeting is on Saturday February 2 from 10.30am to 12.30. Meet at the information desk in the Royal Museum, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. To book a place phone Angus Miller on 0131 555 5488.

5Mr Wood's Fossils

Fancy a 356-million-year-old cheiracanthus or spiny shark for over the mantelpiece? Or the partial skeleton of a 35 million-year-old shrew-like, insectivorous mammal called leptictis for the bedside table? Mr Wood's your man.

If your wallet doesn't stretch, there are mammoth teeth from the North Sea or a 70-million-year-old dinosaur egg from China, and all those smaller creatures which have been turned to stone; gastropods and brachiopods, trilobites and spiral-shelled ammonites.

There are mosquitoes from the Baltic preserved in amber and the gingko tree with its six-fingered leaves. Its descendent is the Maidenhair tree of Japan and China, but 170 million years ago it was growing in Yorkshire. There again you could go home with your own small piece of ancient Scotland.

Mr Wood's Fossils, 5 Cowgatehead, Grassmarket, Edinburgh; closed Sunday, www.mrwoodsfossils.co.uk or tel: 0131 220 1344.