East Kirkton Quarry

A disused limestone quarry and fossil locality in West Lothian, East Kirkton Quarry is situated at Limefield, on the edge of Bathgate, a mile (1.5 km) east of the town centre. The quarry was active in the early 19th C. when the limestone was processed for agricultural use at the nearby Kirkton Limeworks, but it closed in 1884.

East Kirkton became famous as a fossil locality when commercial fossil-hunter Stan Wood (1939 - 2012) found a fossil tetrapod (a form of early reptile) here in 1984. This unique specimen was subsequently named Westlothiana lizziae. Wood bought the quarry and worked it to extract fossils. Subsequent investigations have yielded a rich terrestrial flora and fauna representing a tropical early Carboniferous ecosystem of about 335 million years ago. These fossils include remarkably well-preserved amphibians, fish, plants and arthropods, such as harvestman spiders, millipedes, scorpions and large eurypterids. The site gives its name to the amphibian Ophiderpeton kirktonense. Other new species Eldeceeon rolfei (named after the Livingston Development Corporation - LDC) and Balanerpeton woodi were also found here.

This rocks here represent a variable succession of shale, thin limestones and coals, representing deposition in a lake basin. Volcanic ash bands indicate proximity to the volcanoes of central Scotland, which were active at this time. The volcanic activity may have periodically heated or poisoned the lake killing the creatures which came here and providing unusually good conditions for their preservation. Black mudstones lying above the limestone were found to contain fish remains.

East Kirkton Quarry is now designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and as a Local Geodiversity Site (LGS).

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