ROGER OSBORNE’SThe Floating Egg, Episodes in the Making of Geology makes perfect
holiday reading as almost all of it is set on this stretch of the Jurassic Yorkshire
Coast. I can read about alum mines or Captain Cook then see the places associated
with them the next day. The floating egg of the title was a well-kept secret in the
process of crystallising alum salts.
In chapter seven, Osborne tells the story of a fossil crocodile, Teleosaurus chapmani,
found in the alum shales at Saltwick, near Whitby; ‘The fossil . . . is now cleaned
and back on display in Whitby Museum. It awaits your visit.’
How could I resist an invitation like that? After a morning walking on the Maybeck
Farm Trail, an afternoon browsing around Whitby (today’s bargain book; Blood & Roses,
The Paston Family in the Fifteenth Century) followed by tea and scones at Sherlock’s,
I had an hour to call in and draw it.
Should you want a souvenir, the museum shop has bookmarks and mugs featuring this
celebrated fossil, described as ‘the most perfect specimen known’.
Teleosaurus appears on the cover of the book, along with duellist, journalist & meteorite
man Edward Topham of Wold Cottage, near Scarborough.
Lizard basking during a sunny interval this morning on stile between plantation and
moor, Maybeck Trail.