Rocks and Raiders

The whole character of Flamborough Head is determined by the underlying rocks, and the way in which they have been sculpted by North Sea storms.

The relatively hard chalk resists erosion, so forming a peninsula which protrudes an enormous 6km into the North Sea, presenting a hazard to shipping for centuries.

The clearly visible layers in the chalk were made as the calcareous muds accumulated on the sea bed around 75 million years ago, in warm sub-tropical seas. These layers have given rise to the ledges – now perfect nest sites for our spectacular seabirds.  Beneath the waves the chalk forms a hard rocky submarine platform – left behind as the cliffs have retreated. This forms the perfect hard base for marine creatures to attach themselves, and make their homes.

Faults and fractures criss-cross the rocks, and these have been eroded by the waves – sometimes rolling in all the way from the Arctic Circle. As a result the headland has a labyrinth of caves, towering stacks, platforms and sheltered sandy bays.  This intricate coastline has been used throughout the centuries; from Viking landings and smugglers caves, to fishing harbours and, more recently, locations for TV shows and films.

The Rocks and Raiders geology Storyboard is positioned on the cliff-top at Thornwick Bay, close to the café.  From here, you can see the caves, bays and stacks formed over millions of years, before heading down to the beach to explore for yourself.  Be aware that many areas accessible at low tide are cut off by the sea – check the tide times before you go.

© Heather Davison-Smith

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