Fairy Money, Snake Stones, Devil’s Fingers…and Bertie.

I am continuing my explorations of the fossils that can be found here at Grafham. So far I have found Gryphaea, Belemnites, bits of Ammonites but as yet no sections of Crinoid stems. They are a common find but I need to take some more time to look as they are tiny..but unexpectedly very beautiful. Some are simple and circular in sections and some are star shaped.

Photograph from the British Geological Survey website.
If you are lucky enough to find a more complete fossil it would be rather like this.

Fossil Folklore

In folklore these beautiful slender columns were thought to have stretched from earth up into the heavens, occurring at times of storms and were known individually as star stones. The simple discs with a handy central hole were thought to be fairy money or “St Cuthbert’s Beads

from http://www.jsjgeology.net/Ausich-talk.htm

Ammonites are particularly interesting with their beautifully coiled shape. It’s not surprising that they were known as snake stones.
But I am fond of snakes so was dismayed to discover that they were thought to be the remains of snakes, cursed and turned to stone by St Hilda.
And then to add insult to injury they were subject to a beheading curse by St Cuthbert. All this to account for these curious curled and apparently headless things found in abundance near Whitby.
I have written about this snaky connotations over at Printdaily. See Ammonite:The Curious Snake Stone.

Ammonites occurring in architectural stone are quite common but it is thought that this ammonite imprinted stone was specially selected for the entrance to Stony Littleton’s Neolithic Chambered Long Barrow.

From Chris Collyer’s completely fascinating Stone Circles UK website.

Belemnites I wrote about my splendid Belemnite find in my last post  and as with the Devils Toenails these bullet shaped things had devillish associations, being known as Devil’s fingers or Thunderbolts occurring after thunderstorms. It’s interesting that many of the legends relate to storm activity, I guess heavy rains would have revealed the fossils leading to an understandable connection.


It’s all very inspiring for an artist (especially one with leaning towards the dark side) but for the meanwhile here are a couple more of my simple fossil inspired experiments for this week’s Beautiful Beasts work.


Roughs and the block

am 1 bg

Lino 4 x 6 overprinted with fronds


With added type.. For more info see Printdaily

Belemnite I had made three different possible background plates, fronds, wavy lines and a circle and then the lino was a 2 colour reduction.


Frond background and first printing.


Circle background, first lino print was rotated and reprinted. Then second colour added.

Chris said “what are you calling it?” “Bertie the Belemnite.” I said.

Oh dear, it just slipped out. I am supposed to be a serious artist but I guess it will stick, as these things have a tendency to do. And one last print.


With wavy background and two colours. I will post more of the process  on Printdaily soon.

And to end, a glorious bunch of Berties on the Bench.


Well, its been that sort of day … more fossils next week…

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