Dinosaur footprint on Staffin Beach
Dinosaur footprint on Staffin beach, with a 10p coin for scale

On the beach at An Corran, Staffin, are some remarkable footprints. They were left by a family of dinosaurs that walked across the sand here some 165 million years ago. To put that in context, the gabbro rocks of the Cuillin were formed about 60 million years ago, and they were carved by the glaciers of the last ice age on Skye just 11,000 years ago. These are very, very old footprints. To be able to see and touch them in-situ is an amazing experience. There is a sense of connection with these beings from an unimaginable distance in time.

 

The dinosaurs that passed here were Ornithopods, herbivorous creatures who walked on two legs. They, along with the carnivorous Megalosaurus and the omnivorous Cetiosaurus and Stegosaurus, contribute to Skye's reputation as the 'dinosaur isle'.

There is a fair cluster of footprints on a bed of sandstone on the beach. The prints are covered by the sea at high tide, and are often covered by sand in the summer. The best time to see them is after a winter storm, when the sea has swept the sand away, but it's worth a look at any time. You may be lucky.

In the interest of preserving the prints, I'll leave the exact location vague. Then only the genuinely interested will go looking. But I will say that they are not too far from the ramp that runs down to the beach at Staffin.

Whether or not you find the prints on the beach, if you are interested in fossils in general, and dinosaurs in particular, the Staffin Museum at Ellishadder (NG506657) will be worth a visit. They have lots of stuff there, including more dinosaur footprints, the world's smallest dinosaur footprint, a dinosaur leg bone and various other fossils.

Staffin Museum, Ellishadder
Staffin Museum

There is no electricity in the building, so wear warm clothes on a cold day!

The Museum is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 10.30 and 13.00 - mostly - but not in the winter...